Thailand’s Ministry of Health is introducing special “dust-free” wards in hospitals to treat patients affected by airborne particulate matter PM2.5.

Thailand’s Ministry of Health has said it plans to set up ‘dust-free’ hospital wards for at-risk patients in 30 provinces following an increase in the number of people affected by airborne particulate matter suspensions smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), reports the Bangkok Post.

Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Dr Opas Karnkawinpong said more than 10,000 patients have been affected by fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in the past four months, with 1,407 requiring emergency treatment.

Dr Opas said the Ministry of Health plans to introduce “dust-free” wards in 30 high-risk provinces, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Phitsanulok and the Bangkok metropolitan area.

These wards will accommodate patients vulnerable to dust, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies and heart disease.

Dr Opas says the country’s air pollution situation has worsened this week, with Tuesday’s PM2.5 data showing that 44 provinces had PM2.5 levels above 37.5 µg/m3.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration spokesman Aekvarunyu Amrapala said the recent rise in PM2.5 to unhealthy levels in 26 Bangkok districts was caused by external factors, especially smoke from waste incineration in Cambodia.

The data shows that 4,9983 locations in Thailand’s neighbouring countries were burning waste this year, up 93 per cent from last year when 2,5856 spots were recorded.

The top five areas with the highest PM2.5 levels in Bangkok include Suan Thavivanarom Park and Sanam Luang 2 in Thawi Wattkhana district, Bangkok Noi Railway Police Station in Bangkok Noi district, Bang Bon Market in Bang Bon district and Phetkasem 81 in Nong Khem district.

Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt said farmers are among those most to blame for the PM2.5 problem as they often burn stubble and cannot afford machines that avoid burning. The governor also spoke about the Metropolitan Administration’s initiative to provide farmers with tractors and straw balers to reduce burning and generate more income from the sale of rice straw blocks.

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