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As Toxic Smog Reaches Dangerous Levels, Bangkok Closes All Public Schools

All 437 city-run public schools will be closed through Friday because of dangerous air quality that has overtaken the city.

Earlier today, the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority issued the order citing concerns for students' health. High levels of pollution have been observed across the city for weeks and are now at their worst levels yet. “The situation will be bad until February 3 to 4, so I decided to close schools,” said Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang.

Micro-pollutants rose well above the safe level of 50 micrograms per cubic meter, with one area reaching as high as 113 micrograms. Air Visual, an independent online air quality index last week noted Bangkok's air reached an “unhealthy” level of 171, up from 156 earlier in the month.

The smog has been attributed to traffic fumes, construction and crop burning in the absence of rainfall. The government has taken drastic efforts to improve the conditions including seeding clouds with rain, spraying overpasses with water to collect micron pollutants and even advising people to refrain from lighting incense. Kwanmuang said that closing the schools will also reduce the number of cars on the road which could improve the situation.

As of Wednesday afternoon according to IQ Air, the air quality in Bangkok was an "unhealthy" 167. Saigon and Hanoi, by comparison, were a "moderate" 68 and 92, respectively. Delhi, India was the worst in the world with a "very unhealthy" score of 257 followed by Lahore, Pakistan at 202. Of the monitored cities, Amsterdam boasted the cleanest skies with a score of 4.

[Photo via Straits Times]

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