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Heavy smog, worsened by weather, raises alarm across Asia

AP  |  Bangkok 

Unusually high levels of worsened by weather patterns are raising alarm across Asia, with authorities in Thailand's hazy capital handing out face masks and preparing to seed clouds for to clear the air.

A combination of construction dust, auto exhaust and other pollutants, lingering over due to prevailing weather patterns, has taken air quality to unhealthy levels in recent days.

"I admit these are but we have to do it. Other long term measures will also be implemented, Police Gen. told a meeting of army, police, and other officials on Monday.

The city was handing out some 10,000 face masks, spraying water to help settle dust and tightening controls on when big trucks can use city streets the Department said that about half of the high levels of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that can dangerously clog lungs, was due to diesel engine emissions.

The said it was preparing to deploy two planes for seeding on between Tuesday and Friday, if conditions are suitable.

In South Korea, unusually 2.5 levels prompted emergency measures to reduce the health hazard. The country's said the daily average of 120 micrograms per cubic meter in as of late Monday afternoon was the worst since it began monitoring for PM 2.5 in 2015.

Over the years, has suffered repeated spells when silt and pollution-laden winds have swept over from northern But vehicle emissions are also a problem.

Thailand's air pollution problem tends to wax and wane partly depending on the season. As in much of the rest of Asia, burning of fields after harvests can cause severe at certain times of the year.

The spring has come early to tropical

"There are a lot of factories and now that the pollution score is higher we have to be more careful," said Oranart Phongpreecha, 55, a housewife who lives just outside of Bangkok.

"It's not that I get sick more often. But when I go outside, I have a sore throat and I can't see clearly. ... I'm afraid that polluted air is going into my lungs so I have to protect myself."

Pralong Dumrongthai, of the Thai Department, said long would include switching to use of electric vehicles and better quality gasoline.

He said the weather patterns suggest Bangkok might be stuck with bad air for up to three months.

"I ask for public understanding when your vehicles are being checked, especially those that emit black smoke or big trucks," he said. "We need your cooperation."

Pollution generally is out of control by the time countries take action.

India's cities are among the world's smoggiest and it is just starting to tackle the problem.

The has announced a five-year program to cut air pollution by up to 30 percent from 2017 levels in the country's 102 worst-affected cities.

Key targets include reducing burning of field waste, firewood and charcoal, cleaning up thermal power and auto emissions and heavily polluting brick production and controlling dust from construction.

Critics say the plan lacks details on enforcement and funding.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, January 14 2019. 17:55 IST