Thailand might move its capital somewhere else because Bangkok is getting too busy and is constantly covered in smog
Bangkok residents were advised to stay inside and wear protective masks on Monday as toxic smog reached dangerous levels. The smog, which develops through a combination of humid air and small dust particles emitted from vehicles and construction sites, is the result of mass overcrowding and dense traffic in the country's capital. When these dust particles are breathed in, they can cause respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. During a speech at a conference earlier this year, Thailand's prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, floated the idea of completely moving the capital as a way to dramatically reduce traffic and overcrowding. Earlier this year, Indonesian officials announced they were preparing to move the nation's capital from Jakarta to Borneo in large part because of rising sea levels. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Dense clouds of dangerous toxic smog suffocated Bangkok's air on Monday, forcing residents to seek shelter inside and wear special masks. The thick smog — which is caused by a mix of ultra fine dust particles emitted from vehicles and construction sites and high humidity levels — has grown so bad in recent years that some of the nation's highest officials are considering moving the capital entirely.
SMOG: A dozen districts in Thailand's capital of Bangkok are covered in smog today at unhealthy levels pic.twitter.com/Pyo9y9TEzo — Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) September 30, 2019
The dust particles, which are known by the identifier PM2.5, are thin enough to enter a person's bloodstream if they breathe them in. Once inside the body, the pollutants can lead to respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. The Thailand government has set the bar for "safe" levels of PM2.5 at 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. On Monday, PM2.5 levels soared to 79 micrograms, The Seattle Times reported. Thailand's government is considering moving the capital
In a statement released on Facebook, Thailand's prime minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha, told residents to avoid going outside and advised wearing special masks to keep from breathing in the toxic smog. Chan-o-cha ordered government agencies to ramp up their anti-pollution efforts and simultaneously instructed private manufacturing and construction companies to reduce their output in a desperate attempt to quickly bring pollution levels down. Even with these concentrated efforts, dangerous levels of smog are expected to continue hovering around the Thai capital for the next few days. In an interview with ABC News, one Bangkok resident described a harrowing scene of residents walking into work coughing violently, with blood running from their nostrils. "A lot of my friends are saying they come to the office, their noses are running," Bangkok officer worker Piyavathara Natthadana told ABC. "All of them are really coughing today. It's not normal anymore."
Photos of the Bangkok skyline today by Tatchadon Panyaphanitkul #BangkokSmog #ฝุ่นกรุงเทพ #ฝุ่นPM25 #Bangkok pic.twitter.com/VYTz0pUSwc — Richard Barrow 🇹🇭 🇬🇧 (@RichardBarrow) September 30, 2019
Massive overcrowding, traffic congestion, and lackluster regulations have all played a major role in Bangkok's pollution woes, leading some major officials, including prime minister Chan-o-cha, to float the idea of moving the capital entirely. Chan-o-cha hinted at the possible relocation effort during an address to the World Conference earlier this month. "The first is to find a city that's neither too far nor too expensive to move to," Chan-o-cha said. "The second is to move to outer Bangkok to reduce crowding." The prime minister stressed that more research is needed before the government officially decides to move to the outskirts of Bangkok but said it's possible such a move could happen under his administration. Indonesia moved its capital because it's sinking into the sea If Bangkok were to move the capital, it would do so one the heels of similar initiatives being implemented by Indonesia. In that case, Indonesia has planned to move its capital from Jakarta to Borneo due in large part to the fact that the former capital city, which is home to 10 million people, is sinking.
While the Indonesian example proves such a move is theoretically possible, some Thai officials, like National Economic and Social Development Council secretary-general Thosaporn Sirisamphand, expressed skepticism over the possibility of such a drastic move actually happening in Thailand. "Capital relocation is a big issue and needs serious cooperation from various agencies," Sirisamphand told The Bangkok Post. "I think Gen Prayut just threw an idea out to the public on how to tackle traffic congestion in Bangkok." Monday marks the second time this year Bangkok officials have been forced to scramble to mitigate the toxic smog. During the other incident, which occurred in January, firefighters sprayed the air with gushing water from giant hoses in an attempt to bring pollution levels down.
Read more: China's toxic smog is linked to one-third of deaths in the country, study says China's smog has gotten so bad, it's almost impossible to see skyscrapers from the air Indonesia has not imposed tough enough penalties for plantation fires: Greenpeace Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Violent video games are played all over the world, but mass shootings are a uniquely American problem
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