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Extreme Air Pollution in Thailand Causes Demand for Tighter Emission Legislation
Forest fires and farm burning in northern Thailand has engulfed areas including Bangkok and Chiang Rai province in a severely thick and yellow smog. Thicker than usual, the smog is causing respiratory complications in those living and working in Northern Thailand, with many claiming they haven’t seen a smog this thick in years. Smog’s are usual occurrence in Thailand during cooler months due to the agricultural burning that takes place during this time. The issue with the current smog that has settled over Northern Thailand lays within its particulate concentration, standing at 76.3 times over the World Health Organisation’s annual air quality guideline value. As dust free rooms are set up in nurseries containing air purifiers due to the fears surrounding the effects of the smog on the lungs of younger children, many Bangkok health staff are expected to start patrolling the streets to check up on the vulnerable, and issue masks if the conditions worsen. Every year farmers burn entire fields prior to producing sugar cane and rice claiming there is no other alternative when it comes to producing the two major Thai goods that are sold all over the world. More check-ups on emissions produced by Thailand’s 140,000 factories are also being urged by campaigners, as there are no emission data bases standing that can provide values on the exact emissions they are pumping out. In response, Thai companies are claiming that they are not responsible for the entire air pollution as most of them ‘are in contracts with major Thai agribusinesses that have a footprint in other neighbouring countries, and the air pollution gets blown across the border’. Those living in Thailand have not seen smog this thick in years, and many are fearing the long-term effects of living in conditions where air of such thick and poisonous value is being breathed in every day. With many ordered to work from home, anger is being directed at the large companies who are being demanded by the people of Thailand to take responsibility for the ongoing pollution they are witnessing at its worst state. Symptoms of those exposed to the toxic air include burning itchy eyes and skin, alongside coughing and chest tightness. Stricter legislations are needed at a fast rate as at the beginning of 2023 alone, with more than 1.32 million people alone in Thailand became ill because of diseases related to pollution. Many are arguing that they shouldn’t be having to buy air purifiers and not go to work due to the toxic habits of the factories surrounding them, who could just be tightening their emission legislations and protecting the people of Thailand and the environment in the process. Edited By Aminat Akintobi
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