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Air Polution throughout Thailand

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  • Air Polution throughout Thailand

    Authorities warn of “unhealthy” levels of air pollution in Bangkok, elsewhere this week

    Authorities have warned that particulate matter 2.5 levels in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand will reach an unhealthy stage this week. According to a Pattaya News report, the Centre for Air Pollution Mitigation says PM2.5 pollution levels are exceeding safe standards in many central parts of the country, including the capital.

    The CAPM operates under the authority of the Pollution Control Department and yesterday reported that emissions of PM2.5 particles in Bangkok were between 19 and 59 μg/m3. Levels have been reported as above average, at 55 μg/m3, in the area around Ma Charoen Road in the district of Nong Khaem, and 52 μg/m3 in the sub-district of Mahachai, in the central province of Samut Sakhon.

    Meanwhile, in northern Thailand, areas of concern are the sub-district of Nai Mueang, in the province of Phitsanulok, where PM2.5 emissions were measured at 60 μg/m3, and the sub-district of Tha Luang, in the province of Phichit, which reported levels of 55 μg/m3.

    The Pollution Control Department says air pollution in the rest of the country, including the north-east, east, and south, remains at safe levels. In Bangkok, air pollution is expected to reach unhealthy levels as a result of an increase in PM2.5 dust particles over the next 7 days. The situation is expected to ease from December 13. 2021

    The Pattaya News reports that officials in the capital are advising residents to reduce time spent outdoors and to wear face masks and other protection if necessary.

  • #2
    Island of rubbish: Koh Samui’s pollution problem remains unsolved

    No one can argue with the appeal of visiting Thailand’s exotic, tropical islands. With their glistening palm trees, crystal-clear waters, and powdery, white sands, a trip down south is what many yearn to cross off their bucket lists. One of Thailand’s most iconic islands is that of Koh Samui. As the largest and most developed island in the Gulf of Thailand, it is known for its upscale spas, yoga retreats and unparalleled beaches. However, upon arriving, many visitors say they are unenviably shocked by the amount of rubbish that has gone rogue throughout the island’s shores and roads. And, on second thought, this picture-perfect island may not be the tropical paradise that they had envisioned.

    However, Koh Samui isn’t the only place to suffer from wayward rubbish that seems to have no home. Reports of many tourists saying when visiting Krabi and the surrounding islands on boat tours, they pulled up to a shoreline filled with rubbish. But, Koh Samui is also one of those places that tourists would expect to be pristine, due to its international reputation of being a spectacular place to go on holiday. For those local Thais and expats that have chosen Koh Samui as their home, the island’s rubbish has become part of their daily scenery. Paul, a long-time expat, who wishes to keep his surname anonymous, says it definitely affects tourism. “It’s disgusting. For those of us that live here, we see it every day and nothing is being done about it. Even my friends who have visited Samui, came off the ferry seeing rubbish floating at the pier. They ask why is there rubbish everywhere? Even coming from Koh Pha Ngan, where it is miraculously clean, they wonder why Samui is this way?”

    Another expat, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he is sad that the island, in which he calls home, is covered with garbage. “For sure it has an impact on tourism-instead of attracting tourists, the island deters them by its omnipresent garbage. They stay for a few days and go somewhere else.” Since Covid-19ravaged the economy in Thailand, the tourism sector has been all but depleted. As a Bloomberg report indicates that tourism accounts for up to 20% of the economy, the effects have been a nightmare for both locals on the island and expats. Katewadee, a Thai woman who lives on Koh Samui, echoes what the news has reported. “Many people have left. Over half of the population had to go back to their hometowns as there were no tourists.”

    As tongues have wagged and minds have come together to save the island, one thing that many are concerned about is the amount of garbage that doesn’t seem to ever go away. In 2020, the Thailand Development Research Institute reported that Thailand was the world’s 10th-biggest dumper of plastic waste into the sea. Furthermore, the country has an average of 1.03 tonnes of mismanaged waste each year, with nearly half flowing into the sea. Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, also reported concerning figures. It stated that Thailand produces 27.8 million tonnes of waste a year, with 7.19% being produced by local communities. Moreover, such local communities include those that are along the coasts and rivers.

    In a report first published by The Bangkok Post, Greenpeace, an NGO, stated that Thailand produced more than 2 million tonnes of plastic waste a year. Crunching numbers reveals that these organisations claim that of almost 30 million tonnes of waste a year, 2 million of that is plastic waste, while half of that is mismanaged waste. The 2019 Greenpeace report indicated that between 2016 and 2018 the amount of imported plastic waste rose from 836,529 tonnes to 2,265,962 tonnes. Those figures catapulted Thailand into the position of being considered the new outlet for foreign rubbish disposal. Even worse, weak law enforcement has seen shipments of illegal toxic and electronic waste arriving on Thai shores. Just last year, the Raja Ferry capsized off the coast of Koh Samui, carrying truckloads of plastic waste that unfortunately found a new home in the Gulf of Thailand.

    Yet, despite the concerning statistics, together with a shortage of funds, the country relies on local municipalities such as Tessaban to organise and dispose of waste. Moreover, the country has a supply chain, called the saleng, which features rubbish scavengers working together with 30,000 registered shops to sell and buy recyclable waste. Here, on Koh Samui, a local organisation called Trash Hero concentrates efforts between locals and expats to clean up beach trash on the island and those neighbouring islands. John Fitton, the co-founder of EcoThailand, says Koh Pha Ngan, which is nearby Koh Samui, has 3 Tessabans that are proactive and progressively taking care of the island’s waste.

    “One of the major issues Samui has is the lack of an incineration plant. There are options for good value waste to power generation capability, but the island doesn’t, yet, appear to take up the options.” In the meantime, Thailand has been working to switch to a circular economy, which strives to rebuild capital. What this means, essentially, is that instead of losing something by throwing it into a rubbish pile, efforts are being made to reuse that item or rework it into something else.

    Back in 2019, Thailand’s cabinet approved a Plastic Waste Management 2018-2030 roadmap that aims to reduce and stop the use of plastic and replace it with environmentally-friendly materials. This roadmap includes banning 3 types of plastic products in 2019 as well as 4 other types of plastics by 2022. Another initiative, The Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in ASEAN, has detailed the steps to be taken, in order to cut down on pollution. Those steps included recognising that an efficient, waste sorting system at the local level is needed.

    Part of the problem at the local level is that, historically, remote and vulnerable communities’ role in the management of rubbish has been ignored. The lack of waste management and infrastructure, like garbage bins and trucks to collect the waste was also recognised as a big issue in tackling the waste problem. The policy included the need for creating a circular economy instead of using more incinerators and landfills. But the progress, so far, has many wondering if these types of initiatives are just for show.

    Around 5 years ago, Koh Samui had a meeting to decide on a plan that would address the mismanagement of waste on the island. And, that meeting produced an agreement between the island and Khon Kaen, to ship around 200,000 tonnes of waste to a Khon Kaen power generation plant. But, those in the know, say this is only a temporary solution. The meeting also resulted in hiring a private company to manage rubbish disposal within the island and move it outside of the area.

    Fast forward to the present day, Katewadee and other residents say the problem is still glaringly evident. Katewadee says Tessaban is responsible for issuing rubbish bins to each household and collecting 40 baht per month to regularly empty the bins. But, upon a simple look around the island, many of the streets are bin-less. As for Tessaban, The Thaiger attempted to contact a representative, however, at the time of publishing this article, no one was reached for comment. Sadly, what’s in place are piles of rubbish along the roads, which locals say is an eyesore for both residents and incoming tourists. Furthermore, the island’s street dog population (another issue in itself) is scavenging through the rubbish, spreading it all over the roads and grass.

    Katewadee says Tessaban usually only picks up such rubbish on the main roads, leaving smaller roads to bargain with private workers at rates from 500-1,000 THB to pick up the trash. However, residents all over the island give contradicting answers when asked if their trash is being picked up regularly. “Tessaban is located in Nathon, and it seems they service that area well but forget about the rest of the island. Tessaban should have a budget that provides bins for every house on the island, but we don’t see any bins around here, just piles of trash that are picked through and spread around by soi dogs.”

    For its part, Tessaban does make 5 year plans to combat the rubbish on the island, and some residents say they remember seeing bins provided. However, they say they disappeared as they were either stolen or removed. It is clear that for any type of national agenda to succeed, the government needs to make sure that local and coastal communities actively minimise waste at the source. Another issue includes historically poor education. Katewadee says even with these initiatives, people litter because they either don’t understand the effects on the environment, or they simply don’t know where to take their rubbish.

    Although the effects on tourism are important, the environment is the main victim of such mismanagement. Greenpeace says that 60% of marine animals die from eating plastic waste, while 70% of sea turtles die from plastic waste that binds to their necks and body. One thing is evident in the fight to reduce pollution: nobody wins when pollution is mismanaged. For now, the environment continues to be the biggest receiver of humanity’s misdeeds. As many environmentalists keep pushing for a greener way to live, time is running out to preserve ecosystems. And Koh Samui is just one example of how waste mismanagement can have devastating effects for all types of the island’s residents.


    • #3
      Bangkok authorities look to tackle air pollution

      After unsafe levels of smog and smoke blanketed Bangkok last month, the city’s authorities are now looking to tackle Bangkok’s notorious air pollution. The deputy permanent secretary of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has said that this year, the BMA aims to work with other government agencies to deal with the air problem. He said that the BMA’s pollution control operations will now be based on new safety standards.

      These standards will apply to oil fuel and car exhaust, among other things. The deputy permanent secretary, Chatree Wattanakhajorn, said that over the long term, oil fuel with only up to 10 parts per million will be designated for use in Bangkok and nearby provinces from 2024. The BMA has also now set a goal of making the PM2.5 safety standard 37.5 grammes per cubic metre, instead of 50 grammes per cubic metre. Chatree said that the BMA will enforce Euro 6 exhaust standards on cars this year.

      Even though air pollution has reached dangerous levels across Thailand in recent months, as it does every year, a National Environment Board meeting has reported that the PM2.5 pollution situation in Bangkok and 17 Northern provinces has improved over the past year. The meeting reported that hotspots in the country’s north dropped by 69%. In March, Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency said there were 1,060 hot spots across Thailand.

      110 of the hotspots were in Chiang Mai province, and 92 were in Lampang province. The air quality in the North and Northeast was mostly due to farmers burning waste, and villagers lighting fires in forests. The meteorological department said that in those regions, smoke and haze accumulate “due to weak air flow and lack of rainfall at this time of the year”.


      • #4
        Haze Pollution Forces School Closures in Bangkok on February 04.2023

        Schools such as Chulalongkorn University Demonstration Secondary School and Jindabamrung School temporarily closed their doors due to the respiratory impact on students and announced reopening on Monday. The Education Ministry has established coordination centres to monitor the PM2.5 situation and schools can exercise discretion in their decisions to close if the dust levels are deemed unsafe.

        The Public Health Ministry reported that over 370,000 patients have suffered from illnesses due to inhaling ultra-fine dust particles (PM2.5), Bangkok Post reported. On Friday, 43 provinces including Bangkok and its suburbs remained blanketed in smog, with PM2.5 dust levels above the government’s safe limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m³), according to the Pollution Control Department (PCD).

        The increase in haze pollution has led to an increase in health problems, with the Public Health Ministry reporting that over 376,000 people suffered from air pollution-related illnesses this week. Over 165,000 suffered from respiratory diseases, 80,248 from skin diseases, and 70,206 from eye inflammation. Public health emergency operation centres have been established in 14 provinces affected by PM2.5, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Nonthaburi, to deal with the issue more systematically. The US AQI value for Chiang Mai was at 164, with a PM2.5 level of 84.7μg/m³, briefly making it the 14th most polluted city in the world.

        Air pollution reports can be accessed through and the Air4Thai and AirBKK apps. The PCD’s air and noise quality management division reports that fine dust levels persist in Bangkok and surrounding provinces due to accumulated dust and stagnant air. Central Bangkok and areas in the northern and southern Thon Buri regions are under close watch. On Thursday, Bangkok was ranked the third worst city in the world for air pollution. Thailand is set to adjust its standard safety level of air pollution from June 1, 2023. The adjustment will see the safety level change from 50 microns to 37.5 microns as part of a move to help the Pollution Control Department manage air pollution more efficiently.

        Thai officials provide safety guidelines for students, school staff amidst pollution

        As Thailand continues to grapple with the ongoing air pollution crisis, officials provided guidelines for students and school staff. Yesterday, the Ministry of Education provided school safety guidelines for students and staff to protect themselves from PM2.5. The guidelines include: avoiding outdoor activities for extended periods, wearing face masks when outdoors, wearing long-sleeved shirts, taking showers or washing skin after exposure to polluted air, using air purifiers with high-efficiency particulate air filters, seeking medical attention for respiratory symptoms or skin irritation, and generally maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

        PM2.5, fine dust particles in the air, pose serious health risks, particularly to young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic lung disease. To address this issue, the Ministry has designated the Disaster Coordination Centre for Educational Institutes as the central agency responsible for monitoring air pollution levels in each province and formulating short and long-term solutions to the crisis.

        The ministry issued a nationwide order to provincial education offices with measures aimed at tackling the PM2.5 crisis in schools and instructions on how to protect against air pollution. The order designated the Disaster Coordination Centre for Educational Institutes, which has officials in every provincial education office, as the central agency for monitoring air pollution in their province, Nation Thailand reported.

        Recent days have seen PM2.5 levels in various areas of Thailand reach dangerous levels, but the situation has started to improve. According to, Bangkok’s average air quality index at 9am on Saturday was 95, or moderate, with an average PM2.5 level of 33 micrograms per cubic meter of air, below Thailand’s minimum safety level of 50 μg/m3. On Feb 04.2023 several schools in Bangkok were forced to close due to pollution. Meanwhile, over 376,000 patients have suffered from illnesses due to inhaling PM2.5. Over 165,000 suffered from respiratory diseases, 80,248 from skin diseases, and 70,206 from eye inflammation.

        Last edited by Steve; 02-05-2023, 08:08 PM.


        • #5
          Tourism in Chiang Mai may be damaged by Air Pollution

          The Northern region of Thailand, especially Chiang Mai, is experiencing a hazardous level of ultra-fine PM2.5 dust particles in the air. This is causing concerns among tourism operators in the city that the situation will negatively impact the industry. Pallop Saejiew, the president of Chiang Mai’s Tourism Industrial Council, worries about the long-term effects on the province’s tourism industry. Demand has been dropping for outdoor activities and tourist attractions in the inner areas of the province.

          However, hotels in the area have yet to issue figures showing a sharp jump in cancellations. The number of tourists arriving and departing from Chiang Mai’s airport is lower than during the past high tourism season when the air was cleaner. Tourism industry officials worry that this drop suggests that people may be realising that the air quality is poor and choosing to avoid travel to Chiang Mai and the Northern provinces. The haze has caused a decrease in tourist visits to the area, according to Witthaya Khrongsap, a coordinator of a civic group called Network of Northern Breath.

          The haze situation is expected to last until April. The tourism president called for state agencies to work together with tourism operators to tackle this air pollution problem, calling it crucial. The Pollution Control Department (PCD) reported that almost all areas in the 17 northern provinces recorded a higher level of PM2.5 dust particles than the safe level of 50 µg/m3, with levels ranging from 93 to 203 µg/m3.

          Tambon Hangdong in the Hot district of Chiang Mai has the worst PM2.5 situation due to biomass burning and weather conditions that trap smoke and pollution. The level of dust in the air was starkly described as “lung-breaking” by Witsanu Attavanich, a member of Thailand Clean Air Network (Thailand CAN) and associate professor at Kasetsart University. The deputy director of the Chiang Mai office of the Tourism Authority of Thailand disagreed with the gloomy tourism forecast. He says that tourism numbers in Chiang Mai are still strong and increasing despite the haze problem.

          More than 260,000 tourists were said to have visited Chiang Mai last month, averaging approximately 9,000 per day, including about 70,000 foreign tourists. In addition to Chiang Mai, the Greater Bangkok area has also recorded high levels of PM2.5 in certain areas. But there is hope that the southern winds will help sweep the haze away and make the air a bit more breathable soon.

          Officials say 90% of northern Thailand’s hotspots caused by human activity

          The director-general of Thailand’s Pollution Control Department says around 90% of the hotspots in northern Thailand are caused by human activities. Director-General Pinsak Suraswadi said the PM2.5 atmospheric pollution in the region is expected to increase before it improves. Pinsak said that 90% of the hotspots were detected in conserved forests and that the problem would be worse between Saturday, March 3, and Friday, March 10, with higher levels of dust reported in Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Sukhothai, and Phitsanuloke.

          Pinsak revealed that there is a high concentration of sugarcane farms and sugar millers in Phitsanuloke, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet, Phichit, and Phetchabun provinces. Farmers have been burning their crops at an accelerated rate, as some millers are starting to shut down their operations, Thai PBS reported. The Geoinformatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) surveyed the western and northern regions. GISTA confirmed that burning crops such as sugarcane and maize waste to prepare the land for the next round of cultivation is believed to be the cause of the increased hotspots.

          Meanwhile, hotspots in Myanmar account for only 5% of the dust problem in northern Thailand. The IQAir website reported today that Chiang Mai has the fifth worst air quality of any city in the world, with the quality measured at 168 on the Air Quality Index (AQI). On Friday, the city’s air quality was the second worst in the world, with an AQI of 177. Chiang Mai’s air is reportedly affecting the health of people across the province.

          Pinsak said that setting up a command centre in each province, and deploying thousands of volunteers to fight the fires, is treating the symptoms without addressing the root cause. He urged the public to be on the lookout for people starting fires and to notify authorities.Northern Thailand is seeing thousands of fire hotspots, with some 2,201 detected last week.

          The upper part of the region had 1,388 hotspots last week, while the lower north had 813. From December 1 to February 28, northern Thailand had 31,971 hotspots The number of hotspots during the same period in 2022 was 13,351. In 2021, the number was 33,430. The increase in hotspots is a major factor in raising PM2.5 levels above the government-set safe level of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre in most northern provinces.


          • #6
            Thailand’s air pollution leads to 200,000 hospital admissions in past week

            Thailand’s current air pollution levels have led to 200,000 hospital admissions over the past week. As heavy find dust blankets the north, northeast and greater Bangkok, the Health Ministry says dust levels are at an unsafe level. The Ministry says those who were admitted to the hospital are suffering from pollution-related respiratory problems. Since the start of 2023, more than 1.3 million people have fallen ill as a result of air pollution. According to the Bangkok Post, a Health Ministry doctor is urging children and pregnant women to stay indoors. But, if they must go outside, it is recommended to wear a high-quality N95 anti-pollution mask.

            In all of the country’s 17 northern provinces, the levels of particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter, increased yesterday. Those areas were classified in the orange zone, which reflects levels that could affect health. Red zones were designated in 15 northern provinces, indicating serious health impacts for residents. The current monitoring system deems that any PM2.5 concentration exceeding 50 microgrammes per cubic metre is considered unsafe. According to Pinsak Surasawadi, director-general of the Pollution Control Department, the following provinces are experiencing PM2.5 levels ranging between 91 and 136ug/m3:
            • Chiang Mai
            • Lamphun
            • Chiang Rai
            • Mae Hong Son
            • Nan
            • Tak
            • Sukhothai
            • Phitsanulok
            • Kamphaeng
            • Phet
            • Uthai Thani
            He went on to say that the highest dust levels were in tambon Thani of Muang district of Sukhothai. Pinsak says he blames the burning of agricultural waste and sugarcane plantations. The burning combined with poor ventilation and weak winds contributed to the current accumulated dust. In the northeast, 11 areas were in the orange zone, while four were in the red zone. Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, Loei, and Bueng Kan, dust levels were reported at 94-124ug/m3. Bangkok and its surrounding areas have seen moderate health risk levels due to the air quality, although Pinsak says the PM2.5 levels fell slightly in some areas.He says the dust in Greater Bangkok is expected to improve after Saturday as the wind from the South is expected to blow away the dust. But, he says people should take extra caution from March 14-16, as the dust passing by could affect their health. People are advised to keep updated on the country’s air quality by checking the Air4Thai application.


            • #7
              Chiang Mai ranks as most polluted city in the world for 9 days running

              NorthernThailand continues to battle a thick layer of smog with Chiang Mai being ranked as the world’s most polluted city by PM2.5 rating for nine days in a row, according to the IQAir website, reportsThaiRath. The highest air quality index (AQI) value was found at the Health Hospital in Ban Khai Hospital in Mae Na Wang subdistrict, Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai province, measuring at a hazardous 411 μg/m3. At Ba Pa Nai Hospital in Phrao district, Chiang Mai province, the AQI measured at 323 μg/m3 yesterday. In the Mueang Chiang Mai district, the AQI measured at 210 μg/m3. Air pollution in Chiang Mai is continually hitting hazardous levels and hospitals are inundated with patients with respiratory issues, according to Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine.

              In the first three months of the year, 12,671 patients sought treatment for breathing and other pollution-related health issues at the 1,400-bed Maharaj Nakhorn Chiang Mai Hospital. There are simply too many patients for everyone to receive treatment, the hospital said on Saturday. On the weekend, officials found 13 forest fire hotspots inside the Doi Suthep – Pui National Park in Hang Dong district. Officials said they managed to extinguish all but two of the fires, one near the Tad Ma Hai Waterfall in Mueang Chiang Mai district and a second at Doi Pha Chedi in Ban Pong subdistrict. The second is particularly concerning because it could spread to the summit of Doi Pui. Officials from the Department of Disaster Mitigation and Prevention said they have got the fire under control with a KA-32 helicopter and firefighters on the ground. Fires are also burning in Sri Lanna National Park, Pha Daeng National Park, Mae Takhrai National Park and Doi Wiang Phang National Park. According to satellite data, there are 308 hotspots in Chiang Mai with 52 in Chiang Dao district, 46 in Fang district, 43 in Mae Taeng district, 38 in Phrao district and 28 in Mae Ai district, reports ThaiRath.

              Air pollution is just as bad in Chiang Rai province where visibility is very low. A total of 222 hotspots were detected in Chiang Rai province, with added dust blowing in from fires in neighbouring Myanmar and Laos. The Governor of Chiang Rai province, Puttipong Sirimat, confirmed that Chiang Rai would not be declared a disaster zone and said the situation is “under control.” However, the AQI in Chiang Rai is a hazardous 210 μg/m3 right now – 31.8 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value. A volunteer helping to extinguish a forest fire in Ban Huai Hang in Chiang Rai’s Wiang Chiang Rung district – 34 year old Thanu Tuinoi – fell down the mountain and injured his shoulder blade and left arm and was sent for treatment at Wiang Chiang Rung district.

              Another man, 61 year old Abu Khaewkong, also slipped and hit a rock, breaking five ribs, while returning from extinguishing a forest fire on Crocodile Mountain in Chiang Rai. Thailand’s Pollution Control Department said that air pollution currently exceeds the standard in 20 provinces: Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nan, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Phichit, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nong Khai, Loei, Udon Thani, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Bua Lamphu, Ubon Ratchathani, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Tak, Khamphaeng Phet. On Friday, a volunteer firefighter – 39 year old Wichai Thimakham – was killed in a forest fire in Khun Khan National Park in Chiang Mai.
              The destruction of wildlife is unfathomable.

              Chiang Mai Residents sue govt over perpetual air pollution crisis

              Residents in Chiang Mai are suing the Government of Thailand for years of neglect in failing to tackle the region’s perpetual air pollution problem. On April 10.2023 about 1,700 Chiang Mai residents filed a lawsuit in the Administrative Court against Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and two state agencies for their failure to address the annual dense smog that blankets the region. The plaintiffs claim that this smog is causing a reduction in their lifespans by approximately five years. About 60 people gathered at the Administrative Court in the northern province to initiate legal proceedings against PM Prayut, the National Environmental Board, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. They are alleging that these entities have neglected their duty to use their power to resolve the smog issue in North Thailand.

              The class action lawsuit brought by around 1,700 plaintiffs comprises individuals from various groups, including northern people’s networks, activists, academics from Chiang Mai University, and residents, reported Bangkok Post. Over three days from Friday to Sunday last week, 727 people showed their support for the lawsuit by signing their names at the faculty of law at Chiang Mai University, while approximately 980 individuals did so online.

              The plaintiffs identified contract farming as the primary cause of severe air pollution. Sumitchai Hatthasan, director of the Centre for Protection and Revival of Local Community Rights and one of the plaintiffs, stated that the prime minister has not fully utilised his power under the Enhancement and Conservation of National Environmental Quality Act to address the issue. The plaintiffs accused the National Environmental Board of failing to effectively implement the national plan introduced in 2019 to tackle particulate matter pollution. Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been held accountable for neglecting to investigate the sources of ultrafine dust pollution within the supply chains of major listed companies, which could have helped to address the problem. According to Dr Rangsarit Kanchanawanit, a faculty member of the medicine department at Chiang Mai University, people living in urban areas are experiencing negative health impacts due to consistently high levels of particulate matter 2.5 micrometres in diameter or less (PM2.5) throughout the year. This pollution increases the likelihood of developing lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, and is estimated to shorten the lifespan of affected individuals by 4-5 years. He said…

              “We want to see the government change its policies, to show a strong political will and not just be considerate towards capitalist groups. This could save millions of people from illness.”
              Chatchawal Thongdeelert, a member of the Breath Council, pointed out that the issue of PM2.5 has been worsening every year. As a result, the government must implement both short-term and long-term measures to address air pollution and reduce its impact on public health. Chatchawal said…

              “The root cause is burning, both in forests and on maize plantations… Political parties and the new government must prioritise this issue and have effective solutions.”
              There have been precedents set in the past where activists have successfully sued the Thai government.In 2013, a group of factory workers in Thailand won a case against the government for failing to protect workers’ rights. In 2017, a group of fishermen won a case against the government for failing to protect their rights to fish in Thai waters. In 2018, a group of villagers won a case against the government for failing to provide them with access to clean water.


              • #8
                Wildfire strikes Thai National Park, sparks regional eco-disaster

                A ferocious wildfire has broken out in Khao Tabaek mountain in Nakhon Nayok province, and it’s not backing down. This hungry hellscape has crossed over into Khao Yai National Park, threatening the area’s lush greenery and its resident creatures. Park ranger Chaiya Huayhongthong sent out an SOS to nearby national parks, asking for reinforcements to help 200 rangers and two helicopters tame the blaze. With the fire feasting on the steep terrain’s dry bamboo and leaves, Chaiya fears it’ll take at least another day to save the park from further destruction, reported Bangkok Post.

                The danger doesn’t stop there! The Suomi NPP satellite has spotted more smoke signals in the northern region. With almost 2,000 hotspots detected in forest reserves throughout the country, it looks like Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Nan are next up for a game of “Whack-A-Mole with Fire.” Add Myanmar and Laos to the mix, and Southeast Asia’s hots spots are blazing the region with a whopping 21,000+ hotspots. The smoky situation is getting even hazier with a side of PM2.5 dust thrown in for good measure. Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA), issued a warning for dust levels in over 30 provinces, mostly hanging out in the northern and northeastern regions. Word on the dusty street is that their fancy THEOS-2 system is in the works to help save the day by analyzing and tracking these fiery hotspots.

                In the meantime, Chiang Rai has had enough of the smoke-filled air and is taking matters into its own hands, extending a burning ban to help snuff out the heat. As for Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, he’s brushing off the 1,700 Chiang Mai residents who decided to slap him with a lawsuit for his questionable haze management. It looks like he might be hoping for more #teamwork, but maybe he should take a page out of Smokey the Bear’s book and remember that “only you can prevent wildfires.”