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Mask shortage in Bangkok due to smog

/ 02:28 PM January 17, 2019
Mask shortage in Bangkok due to smog

A woman wears a mask on the street as haze of pollution blankets Bangkok on December 21, 2018 as Thailand’s Pollution Control Department declared air quality in the Thai capital unhealthy. AFP

BANGKOK — After spending several days choking on high levels of fine particle dust, many Bangkok residents have opted for masks to protect themselves.

But some were unable to find the N95-grade face masks required and are calling for the authorities to cover the shortage.

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Meanwhile, an online poll conducted by The Standard online magazine among 2,200 residents on Monday and Tuesday revealed that 50.3% wore masks to protect themselves, while the remainder complained they could not find one.

They said they had visited many pharmacies and convenience stores but were told they would only get one in two weeks’ time if they make a reservation now.

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On Tuesday morning, several people in Lat Phrao Road were seen wearing masks to protect themselves from allergies or health problems. They, too, complained of the shortage of N95 masks and called on the government to ease the shortage.

Similarly masked people were spotted in Sathorn and Silom roads, while pharmacies in the Victory Monument area confirmed a severe shortage of N95 masks.

Meanwhile, joggers in Chatuchak’s Wachirabenchathat Park were also seen wearing masks, in line with official advice that people should protect themselves while outdoors because PM2.5 levels in many areas were beyond the safe limit of 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

A man identified only as Krit said he has been wearing an N95 mask during his daily run and is closely following air quality updates and warnings.

Some runners said they have halved their jogging period from the usual two hours, as running any more than an hour will lead to breathing difficulties.

Meanwhile, a research report has warned that the severe air pollution problem will take a heavy toll on the country’s economy unless the authorities can effectively clear the smog.

A Kasikorn Research Center analysis on Tuesday said the smog could cost Thailand 6.6 billion baht in losses for the healthcare and tourism sectors.

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TAGS: Asia, Bangkok, environment, Pollution, Public Health, smog, Thailand
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