Bangkok’s Environment Protection Department has ordered all schools in the country’s capital city to close after poor air quality hit dangerous levels in recent days. Authorities declared an emergency as the levels reached as high as 245.

Agriculture Minister Pongthep Thepkanjana said the authorities decided to shut down public schools in Bangkok as the government raised concerns over children’s safety.

Authorities said air quality measurements did not change significantly despite their fire engine dispatches and warned citizens to wear face masks.

They said the higher levels were caused by dust blowing from the Cambodian border and seeping into the country from nearby coal-fired power plants.

We must do our part to bring back clean air

The Metropolitan Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Centre also urged people to avoid going outside and to avoid physical activities during the day if their health did not permit.

“We must do our part to bring back clean air,” said Anastasia Niphate, an environmental advisor with Forum for Sustainable Development (FSD).

She urged people to reduce their exposure to traffic pollution from traffic fumes, flyovers and trucks on the road.

A small number of students in Beijing were told to stay home for a week following a pollution alert in December last year.

The Air Quality Index measures the concentration of harmful chemicals in the air.

People can also visit their local monitoring station to get the latest information on air quality.

According to the ministry of health, any level of chronic air pollution is harmful. Those with chronic lung or heart conditions are particularly at risk.