Health officials are asking parents to be mindful of their children during the current haze crisis, as concentrations of airborne particulate matter are known to be harmful to everyone’s health, especially young children.
Dr Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn, Director-General of the Department of Medical Services, warned about the health impact of Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5), which has been accumulating in many regions of Thailand. He noted that PM2.5 can even enter into the bloodstream through the lungs, as very fine particulate matter can evade respiratory defense mechanisms such as nose hair.
Airborne particles can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and skin, along with coughing, sneezing and rashes among other symptoms. In the longer term, PM2.5 can cause more serious illnesses such as lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart failure and high blood pressure. Pregnant women exposed to PM2.5 are found to be more likely to go into preterm labor and give birth to underweight babies. Fine particulate matter can also affect the growth and brain development of infants.
Dr Akkarathan Jittanuyanon, Director of Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health, said parents should closely monitor air quality reports and ensure their children drink at least 8-10 glasses of water daily.
On days with poor air quality, parents are also urged to shut all doors and windows, turn on indoor fans to ensure air circulation, and refrain from starting car engines or keeping them on for too long periods of time within residential areas. They are also advised to keep their children indoors and encourage them to wear protective masks whenever PM 2.5 levels of 26 micrograms per cubic meter or above are reported.