The Thai government is considering whether to impose a ban on personal car use in affected areas to cope with high levels of hazardous ultra-fine PM2.5 dust particles in the air if levels exceed 100 microgrammes per cubic metre, twice the safety level.
The proposal was unveiled by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha following a cabinet meeting in Narathiwat province.
Prayut said only public transport services will be allowed to use the roads during a ban. However the draconian measure would only be employed on a case-by-case basis to avoid an unnecessarily negative impact.
He stressed that traffic emissions are the primary source of PM2.5, followed by biomass burning and industrial emissions. Therefore, the government has begun working on a long-term master plan to combat pollution which includes the development of electric rail network and replacing diesel-powered public buses with electric ones.
Meanwhile, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Varawut Silpa-archa, said if measures against lorries emitting black smoke prove to be insufficient, personal cars could be targeted next as 72 percent of the PM2.5 dust particles come from traffic emissions.
Thick and unhealthy smog has plagued various localities in Thailand from the beginning of the month. According to the Pollution Control Department, as of 6pm on January 21, PM2.5 ranged from 71 to 86 microgrammes per cubic metre in several areas of Bangkok, while the highest level nationally was 99 microgrammes per cubic metre in Na Phralan commune in Chaloam Phrakiat district of Saraburi.