A KASETSART University professor said in a research paper that air pollution from PM2.5 particles caused 2.173 trillion baht economic damage to Thai households in 2019 and if all pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, CO, NOx, NO2) are included the total soared to 4.616 trillion baht, Matichon newspaper said today (Feb. 23).
Mr. Wissanu Attawanich, an associate professor at this university’s Economics Faculty, also said in his research paper disseminated by Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research (PIER) that air pollution affected households in all Thai provinces except Phuket.
The top five provinces saddled with the highest cost of damage to households are Bangkok with 436.330 billion baht per year for PM2.5 and 927.362 billion baht per year when all air pollutants are considered, followed by Chonburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen respectively.
In addition, if the World Health Organization’s new recommendations are applied, it was found that PM2.5 poses a much greater danger to human health than in the past with the damage value being higher than stated above.
Under WHO’s guidelines updated in 2021 the annual average concentrations of PM2.5 should not exceed 5 micrograms per cubic metre per year.
If PM2.5 pollution is higher than the recommended value, it will start to significantly affect human health such as causing lung, liver and kidney cancer, cerebrovascular accident, heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease, allergies and asthma and other ailments.
Wissanu urged policymakers to urgently implement the following recommendations:
– Raise awareness of the danger of air pollution so that everyone is fully informed including farmers and public and private sector executives. Overseas research shows this is the lowest cost method and can bring very high benefits.
– Add more air quality measurement points in all areas at risk of pollution and link them to apps to send real-time air quality warnings to the public.
– Consider boosting Thailand’s air quality standards from current levels which are three times lower than WHO’s recommendations.
– Urgently resolve problems at the source of air pollution with these being fuel combustion in automotive and transportation sectors; open burning in agriculture and forestry both in the country and neighbouring countries; and fuel combustion and production processes in industrial sector.
It is important to understand that each air pollution has different release periods and causes. Additionally air pollution is a problem that needs constant action as it is not a temporary disaster that can be resolved within a short term each year.
– The effectiveness of various measures should be evaluated because even good plans and measures are often unsuccessful in actual implementation.
Illustration of the effect of air pollution. Top photo: Thai Rath, Front Page photo: Matichon
Insert: Associate Professor Wissanu Attawanich. Photo: Kasetsart University