Mask use urged as haze fastens grip

Mask use urged as haze fastens grip

A pulmonologist from Siriraj Hospital has suggested people wear masks to protect themselves from dust pollution as the number of patients with respiratory diseases continues to rise, especially among children.

Meanwhile, 48 provinces were found to have ultra-fine dust particles (PM2.5) levels above the safe threshold yesterday.

Dr Nitipatana Chierakul, head of the Respiratory Disease and Tuberculosis Division at the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, said hospitals nationwide have seen a spike in cases that began in December.

He said the haze pollution usually peaks around Jan to March, resulting in health issues that could otherwise be avoided, particularly among children.

A recent study in China showed that hundreds of thousands of children aged 3-7 years from 51 Chinese cities have been affected by the PM2.5 pollution, leading to sleeping disorders that can threaten the development of their brains, he said.

“To protect children, households need to install air purifiers. Schools and daycare centres have to build dust-free rooms and limit outdoor activities,” said Dr Nitipatana.

He added that air pollution can cause respiratory symptoms and irritations such as coughing, a runny nose, phlegm and rashes.

When asked for the best remedy, Dr Nitipatana suggested people wear masks outdoors rather than rely on nasal sprays or solutions as these can cause infections.

He also urged concerned agencies to fix the haze pollution as the problem has grown more severe in recent years.

Thailand has seen PM2.5 levels surpass the safe threshold of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m³) in 48 provinces this week.

The Centre for Air Pollution Mitigation (CAPM) reported yesterday that the PM2.5 levels in every region, except for the South, had risen above the government’s safe threshold.

In Bangkok and its adjacent cities, levels ranged from 54-108 μg/m³ with most areas seeing heavy smog.