Khon Kaen and Saraburi are the two most critical cities with the highest half-year average concentrations of particulate matter PM2.5, which is one of the most health-harmful pollutants, according to Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia revealed on Tuesday (Aug 8) that its 6-month analysis of air quality levels from 19 monitoring stations in 14 cities across Thailand shows high levels of toxic air pollution, PM2.5, that exceed safety limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO)
PM 2.5 is particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres that can be inhaled into the blood system and poses a serious threat to human health.
Between January to June this year, the two most critical cities with the highest half-year average concentrations of PM2.5 were Khon Kaen and Saraburi.
In Khon Kaen, PM2.5 concentration is measured at 44 microgrammes per cubic metres , while Saraburi was at 40–over four times higher than WHO air quality limits.
The other 8 cities at risk include Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Prachin Buri, Ratchaburi, Samut Sakhon, Lampang, Chiang Mai, and Tak which showed an alarming rate of an annual average PM2.5 concentration between 26-39.
The data from the Pollution Control Department’s Monitoring Station also revealed that PM2.5 concentration in 10 of 14 cities failed to meet the Thai government’s air quality standards for annual average PM2.5 concentration.
“Millions of people are at risk if nothing is done to improve the country’s air quality. The Thai government must take a decisive action to address this national health emergency and create and implement a bolder action plan that reduces pollution, cleans our air, and saves lives,” said Chariya Senpong, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Air pollution is one of the key environmental issues that the Thai government has failed to immediately address, she added.
According to State of Global Air’s report, in 2015, PM2.5 caused around 37,500 premature deaths in Thailand. Most at risk are children and the elderly, people living in big cities and people living in areas near coal-fired power plants and polluting industries.
Greenpeace is urging the Pollution Control Department to immediately upgrade Thailand’s air quality index (AQI) to incorporate PM2.5 (PM2.5 AQI).
By not setting an AQI of PM2.5, Thailand’s population in urban areas will be exposed to outdoor air pollution levels that are way above WHO limits.