(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The chemical haze of yellowish smog blanketing the sky across Bangkok is so toxic that officials announced more than 400 public schools throughout the Thai capital will be closed on Thursday and Friday.
The city’s air quality, contaminated mostly by vehicle emissions pollution, has reached such harmful levels that the air quality index, or AQI, was above 160 early Thursday morning local time, a period during which readings are at their lowest while most of the megalopolis sleeps. Even still, it ranked among the worst major urban readings globally. (The range for “good” and “moderate” AQI levels are 0 to 100.)
Additionally, officials fear conditions will be exacerbated by next week’s Lunar New Year celebration which will include widespread use of fireworks and incense. They are urging the public to refrain from lighting either as they welcome the new year.
Traffic exhaust from vehicles and smoke pollution from factories, wood burning stoves, coal and burning fields are all faulted for increasing the amount of harmful microscopic dust particles known as PM2.5, which can travel into the bloodstream and into every organ in the body.