Top tips for dealing with the smog in Bangkok
Written by Carl Turner on January 29, 2019.
Air pollution and smog has long been a problem in the world’s biggest cities and although Bangkok, with its 14 million inhabitants and packed roads, has always thrown out fairly high levels of polluting gases, the city has not been as badly affected as others such as Shanghai and Hong Kong … until now.
This January the problem has become acute with hazardous particles in the hot and humid air rising to dangerous levels. A lack of wind has caused that dirty great cloud of stagnating noxious gases to hang over the city, polluting our lungs and making it difficult to breathe. This Tuesday 29th January, hazardous dust levels of 154 microgrammes (mcg) were recorded, exceeding Thailand’s 50mcg threshold generally agreed to be safe. Samut Sakhon province won the dubious honour of the worst polluted district with readings exceeding 163mcg.
In efforts to combat problems in the short term, the authorities have employed water cannons on the city streets. Long term measures include trying to reduce the number of cars on the road by improving public transport and encouraging people to use less polluting fuels but it’s an uphill battle.
There are many things that you can you do to protect yourself and your family against the harmful effects of air pollution:
Wear a mask
Buy a small particle mask with an air filter. You can find out more about masks here.
Check daily air pollution levels in real time on the Air Quality Index website here and try to limit time outside when the situation is particularly acute.
Don’t exercise outside when pollution levels are above the ‘safe’ levels
Have regular health checks – all family members should have a health MOT on a regular basis so that any issues can be flagged up and dealt with early. Coughs, colds, chest infections or having trouble breathing are all red flags which should send you straight to the doctor for a check up.
Eat healthily to boost your body’s immune system. I’m sure you know the drill – plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, cut out processed foods, drink plenty of water etc etc. Citrus fruits, red peppers, ginger, garlic and broccoli are all reputed to be powerful immune system boosters.
Fill your home with houseplants which have air cleaning qualities – yes, that really is a thing! Good choices include aloe vera, snakeplant and Chinese evergreen. More on that here.
Buy an air purifier which can remove contaminants from the air in your home, preferably with a HEPA filter.
Escape the city when you can. Luckily there are some beautiful areas within a few of hours of Bangkok which have much cleaner air like Khao Yai, the coast and the islands. What better excuse for a weekend away?! You can compare pollution levels throughout the country at this link.
Check your health insurance and make sure that you have comprehensive cover so that if anyone in your family does suffer health issues linked to pollution you can get the very best treatment possible without breaking the bank.
Here’s hoping for some wind to blow the smog that is choking Bangkok away very soon. In the meantime, take care.