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The State of Pollution in Thailand

By: Min Heo


What is Pollution?


Pollution is an issue that is widely known and discussed these days. The rise in pollution is widely acknowledged, and it's becoming more and more common. The term 'pollution' refers to the occurrence of any unwanted foreign substance in something. When we talk about pollution on Earth, we are referring to the contamination that is happening of the natural resources by various pollutants. All of this is mainly caused by human activities which harm the environment in multiple ways. There is an immediate need to address this issue, as it is of serious concern. As pollution is seriously damaging our Earth, we need to be aware of its effects and prevent this damage.


On an annual basis, beyond four million people have passed away early because of outdoor air pollution, concerning the World Health Organization (WHO). The primary culprits are fine particles with diameters of 2. 5 micrometers or less (PM2. 5). These can permeate deep within the lungs, heart, and bloodstream, where they cause diseases and cancers.


But global average estimates are similar to this assumption that these particles are the same the world over. They aren't PM2.5 is a mix of chemicals( hydrocarbons, salts, and other composites given off by vehicles, cooking stoves, and industry) and other, natural factors similar to dust and microorganisms. The blend — and its toxin — varies from place to place and over time, in ways that aren't tracked, understood, or managed.


For example, in Asia, soot from residential heating and cooling is the biggest source of PM2.51. In European countries, Russia, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, and the eastern United States, agrarian emissions similar to ammonia are the leading source. Desert dust boosts air pollution in northern Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia. It isn't clear which source is the most dangerous.

Levels of PM2.5 alone give only a rough companion to the toxin of air pollutants in a particular place2. Reducing PM2.5 by the same amount in different places won't deliver the same health benefits far and wide. To protect millions more lives, scientists need to help governments and cosmopolises to determine the most perilous constituents of air pollution and alleviate them first. Experimenters and policymakers need to reevaluate methods for assessing health risks and regulatory measures for reducing those pitfalls.


Evidence is mounting of geographical differences in health responses to air pollution( see ‘ Deadly combinations ’). For illustration, although the associated death sacrifices are high in China and India — industrializing metropolises are heavily polluted and lots of people live there the relative pitfalls to city inhabitants in Europe and the United States are greater. Europeans and North Americans are more likely to die from heart disease and from acute respiratory attacks than are people in China when exposed to similar levels of PM2.53.


Type of Pollution:

There are three main types of pollution - 1) air pollution, 2) water pollution, and 3) soil pollution.


Air Pollution:

Air pollution results from the presence of harmful gases and substances in the air. This is due to vehicle emissions, dust and dirt, and toxic gas from factories. To reduce air pollution, we need to use carpooling and public transport, rather than using private transportation, where toxic emissions only exacerbate the problem. Also, actively avoid burning garbage and other substances.


Water Pollution:

Water pollution occurs when harmful substances get mixed in water bodies such as lakes, oceans, and rivers. Toxic substances can refer to a variety of chemical fertilizers, industrial waste, sewage and wastewater, mining activities, and marine dumping.


Soil Pollution:

Soil pollutants depict the contamination of soil because of the presence of poisonous materials due to excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, deforestation, industrial waste, and so forth. To keep the soil’s fertility, the government should restrict the usage of fertilizers and plant extra timber.



How does Pollution affect Thailand?

According to a Greenpeace Southeast Asia analysis of IQAir data, PM2.5 air pollution was behind approximately 29,000 deaths in Thailand in 2021. The number of air pollution-related deaths per capita in Thailand last year overshot those from road accidents, drug use and homicide coupled, the report finds.


“Air pollution was a leading cause of death in Thailand in 2021, and yearly mean PM2.5 pollution concentrations dramatically exceeded World Health Organization guidelines. We need to see a commitment from the Thai government to clean up our air and follow the WHO’s Air Quality Guidelines with time-bound strategies and plans, ” enunciated Alliya Moun- ob, Energy Transition Coordinator, Greenpeace Thailand.


2021 annual mean PM2.5 pollution concentrations averaged across provinces in Thailand overstepped the World Health Organization’s Air Quality Guideline by further than fourfold. Had PM2.5 concentrations in Thailand met the WHO guidelines, the number of deaths attributable to PM2.5 pollution could have been reduced by 77.


In Bangkok, average PM2.5 concentrations overpassed the WHO’s yearly mean Air Quality Guideline during every month of 2021 and were as altitudinous as nine times the WHO annual mean guideline during the worst polluted month of February, according to the report. Air pollution was responsible for an estimated,400 deaths in the city last year, and the threat of unseasonable death for those living in Bangkok was estimated to be 13 higher than if the air had been clean, the report found.

Of all provinces studied, levels of air pollution were topmost in Phrae, northern Thailand. Annual average PM2.5 concentrations in the province breached the National Standard in Thailand and exceeded the WHO Guideline by further than sixfold. Some provinces across Thailand don't have sufficient air quality monitoring in place to be included in the study.


Nationwide, air pollution remains an especially high threat during the winter months of January through March, counting for nearly 50 of the annual PM2.5 vulnerability in the country. During these three months, weather conditions and agrarian burning emulsion the air quality problems that are created by road traffic, industry, and other fossil fuel burning activities.


Possible Solutions:


1. Renewable fuel and clean energy products


The most abecedarian answer for air pollution is to move away from fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative energies like solar, wind, and geothermal.


2. Energy conservation and efficiency


Producing clean energy is pivotal. But equally important is to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits and using more efficient devices.


3. Eco-friendly transportation


Shifting to electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, and promoting participated mobility(i.e carpooling, and public transport) could reduce air pollution.


4. Green building


From planning to obliteration, the green building aims to produce environmentally responsible and resource-efficient structures to reduce their carbon footprint.



Solutions Thailand is taking:


“Tackling air pollution requires an effort from everyone, from individuals, communities, agencies, industries, to policymakers and enforcers, across all branches of government. That is what we call a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach. A shift towards healthier and more sustainable policies implemented and adopted by everyone concerned will be required. Poor-quality air must become something that is no longer acceptable. The pay-off will be that many more people will enjoy better health and live in more appealing and undamaged environments. Less impact on people’s health will also mean lower health care expenditures,” said Dr. Jos Vandelaer, WHO Thailand Representative.


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Reducing air pollution, through reducing combustion like fuel burning in buses and factories, and open burning of waste in homes or agriculture can save numerous lives. A study estimated that a 20 reduction in air pollution could prevent up to 25 avoidable deaths each year.


Individuals can also take measures themselves, such as closing windows and using a dedicated air purifier or a filtered air conditioner while indoors, wearing an N95 mask when going outside( surgical masks cover against COVID- 19 but not against the small PM2.5 particles in polluted air), using public transportation rather of own vehicles, don’t burn open fires, etc.


In 2019, the Royal Thai Government decided to make air pollution a national precedence. It later released the public action plan for" Addressing the pollution problem( particulate matter) 2019- 2024." The plan aims to empower original authorities to better tackle the sources of air pollution, such as factories and open agrarian burnings.


Dr. Wirun, Director of the Society and Health Institute, Ministry of Public Health said the Plan was well-drafted but there remain gaps in perpetration, adding that Thailand needs a new, powerful law and important law enforcement to handle expansive and complicated problems like air pollution.


Sources


Bangkok air quality. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://bangkokairquality.com/bma/aqi?lang=en Bangkok air quality index (Aqi) and thailand air pollution | iqair. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.iqair.com/th-en/thailand/bangkok Deciphering the black box of air pollution data in thailand. (n.d.). ESCAP. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.unescap.org/blog/deciphering-black-box-air-pollution-data-thailand Limited, B. P. P. C. (n.d.). Thai public must back bill for clean air. Bangkok Post. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/2244079/thai-public-must-back-bill-for-clean-air project, T. W. A. Q. I. (n.d.). Air pollution in thailand: Real-time air quality index visual map. Aqicn.Org. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://aqicn.org/map/thailand/ Thailand’s new air quality standard to become effective in June 2023. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.thaipbsworld.com/thailands-new-air-quality-standard-to-become-effective-in-june-2023/


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