The Ministry of Public Health has announced plans to set up “dust-free” hospital rooms in 30 provinces to protect at-risk patients from the adverse effects of PM2.5 pollution. The decision follows reports of over 10,000 individuals affected by the fine particulate matter, with 1,407 requiring emergency care in the last four months.
The provinces targeted for these special rooms include Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Phitsanulok, and areas within the Bangkok Metropolitan Region, aimed at safeguarding vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, pregnant women, and those with chronic conditions like asthma and heart disease.
Recent data has highlighted a worsening PM2.5 situation across the country, with 44 provinces recording levels above the safe threshold of 37.5μg/m3. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has identified external factors, particularly burning smoke from a neighboring country, as significant contributors to the unhealthy PM2.5 levels noted in 26 areas of Bangkok.
In response to the pollution crisis, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt highlighted the issue of stubble burning by farmers, a practice driven by economic constraints. The BMA is launching an initiative to lend tractors and straw balers to farmers, encouraging alternative practices to burning and promoting additional income through the sale of rice straw blocks.