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Air quality affects all of our lives, and in fact, it can be downright dangerous. The World Health Organization estimates that each year 2 million people die prematurely from the poisonous gases that make up smog. The usually crowded streets of Bangkok are no exception to this, yet they have remained relatively quiet due to the COVID-19 restrictions. As a result – the air in Bangkok has been better to breathe than in ages.

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Bangkok, Thailand – January 30, 2019:
Cityscape of Bangkok covered in smog. PM2.5 dust exceeding safe limits resulting in poor visibility and health hazards
Bangkok, Thailand – February 2020:
Clear skies showing a view from a rooftop on China town in the middle of the city.

It’s no surprise Bangkok air quality has been better during 2020. It’s still nice when the data confirms it:

According to aqicn.org, Bangkok’s Air Quality Index has experienced a decrease in air pollution, giving us a good example of what could happen if we started treating our planet a bit better. Smog-free Bangkok certainly sounds like a goal we should all push for.

Air quality is commonly measured as AQI, which is the standard of measurement. Simplified, smaller numbers are good, and the bigger the numbers get the more hazardous it will be. Generally below 50 AQI is considered as a safe level. The best air quality in Bangkok has been in Samut Prakan Province, just south of the Thai capital.

Bangkok’s smog has been an infamous problem for years, usually spiking between January and March. This was met with an unsought honor of being ranked as the third most polluted city in the world in 2020, according to AirVisual.com.

The blame for the peak in pollution has been forwarded towards farmers and their yearly tradition of burning crop fields before and after harvest. This is technically illegal but remains mostly unpunished despite its adverse effects. Resulting haze is carried and spread across North & Central Thailand, usually from January to April. The highest spike is seen in March as extremely dry conditions increase the severity of burning and may result in forest fires.

Comparing air quality in Bangkok between 2020 and 2019

The comparison to last year portrays an overall positive trend. While the beginning of 2020 was still on course for being possibly worse than 2019, the positive direction can be seen picking up from March. Last April had an over 30% increase in days with moderate air quality compared to 2019. Even better, the month of May had 5 days actually scoring below 50, meaning good air quality.

2020

25-50 50-75
75-100
100-125
125-150
150-175
175-200

More Exposure to Indoor Air Pollution

When you think of air pollution, most tend to think of the air outside. With social distancing, remote working, and curfews most of us have been retreating inside the safety of our homes. Luckily the air inside your home is at least clean, right?

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Wrong. The air quality in your home can actually be many times worse than the air quality outside.

Do you ever hold your breath when you see a semi-truck spew thick black clouds of smoke in your direction? According to the EPA, the levels of indoor air pollutants can be up to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. In the worst cases, these levels can exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants.

Our lungs are responsible for bringing fresh air into our body, while simultaneously removing any harmful waste particulates and gases. The more particles in the air, the more difficult it is for your lungs to remove them. Poor air quality – indoors or outdoors – can make it increasingly difficult for your lungs to function properly and cause negative health effects.

Here’s what you can do to improve the air quality in your home:

  • Make sure your indoor air has proper ventilation when using chemicals.
  • Change air filters in your home on a monthly basis.
  • Keep your AC cleaned.
  • Invest in a good indoor air purifier.
  • Don’t smoke indoors.
  • It’s not called a refreshing walk without a reason. Go outside and breath the fresh air, and enjoy multiple health benefits. Our favorite place is the Green Lung of Bangkok – Bang Krachao.
An oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle, in the middle of Bang Krachao is a public park and botanical gardens with exciting bike trails and scenic fishponds.

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