THERE were as many as 1,325,838 air-pollution related cases in Thailand during Jan. 1-Mar. 5 this year with the public warned that airborne particles known as PM2.5 could lead to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer while 31,081 people died from exposure to toxic airborne dust in 2019, TV Channel 7 quoted the Public Health Ministry as saying today (Mar. 8).
Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, the ministry’s permanent secretary, said of 1,325,838 air-pollution cases recorded during this period 196,311 showed up this week, up from 161,839 last week.
This week has also seen a jump in respiratory cases to 583,238, up from 85,910 last week; skin infections soaring to 267,161 cases, up from 35,878 last week; eye infections climbing to 242,805 cases, up from 36,537 last week; and cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases leaping to 208,880 cases, up from 33,413 last week.
Dr. Suwanchai Wattana Yingcharoenchai, the head of the Health Department, said PM.2.5 pollution is tending to increase to the orange initial health impact level and this affects health with long-term heavy exposure leading to respiratory and cardiovascular disease as well as lung cancer.
There are also some chemical components that cause cancer, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a class of chemicals that occur naturally in coal, crude oil, and gasoline. They result from burning coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage, and tobacco. PAHs can bind to or form small particles in the air. High heat when cooking meat and other foods will form PAHs, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are compounds that have a high vapour pressure and low water solubility. Many VOCs are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals and refrigerants, the US Environmental Protection Agency said.
A study showed that of the total of 31,081 people who died from exposure to airborne dust in 2019, 11,408 had suffered ischemic heart disease, 7,274 a stroke. 3,043 chronic obstructive pulmonary (COPD) disease and 2,464 lung cancer.
The ministry’s data also shows that last year there were 189,713 cases of lung cancer, representing 291.18 per 100,000 population.
Air pollution in Bangkok on Jan. 24, 2023. Photos: Sanook.com