10 Million Thai’s Sought Medical Attention in 2023 for Diseases Linked to Pollution

In 2023, authorities reported that over 10 million Thais sought treatment for illnesses related to air pollution.

The information from the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) arrives as Thailand’s air quality deteriorates.

Extensive farm burning and forest fires, particularly in the northern regions, frequently lead to a harmful smog in the early months.

At the beginning of 2024, there has been a noticeable increase in instances of diseases linked to pollution in comparison to the previous year.

According to AFP, the number of individuals seeking treatment for pollution-related illnesses rose from 1.3 million in the first nine weeks of 2023 to 1.6 million at the beginning of 2024. Thailand boasts a population of approximately 72 million people.

These cases involve individuals with chronic conditions like lung cancer, bronchitis, asthma, and heart diseases.

Thailand needs to focus on the impact of PM2.5 on public health, according to the NESDC.

PM 2.5 indicates the presence of small, dangerous particles – with diameters of 2.5 micrometres or less – that can penetrate the bloodstream via the lungs.

Being exposed to these micro-pollutants may lead to burning and itching in the eyes and skin, along with coughing and chest tightness.

These symptoms could be more severe for individuals with existing heart or lung issues.

Thailand’s northern cities have been identified as some of the most polluted in the world by air quality monitoring websites. Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Lampang have received “unhealthy” ratings from monitoring platform IQAir.

In Thailand, air pollution becomes a concern in the dry season, usually from November to March, primarily because of farmers burning their sugarcane and rice fields.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin promised to enhance air quality. Lawmakers also supported a bill aimed at addressing the issue.

Last week, the country revealed its intention to dispatch 30 aircraft nationwide for cloud seeding in order to stimulate rain and alleviate pollution.

In February, authorities in Bangkok recommended that employees work remotely for two days due to high pollution levels in the capital city and nearby provinces.

Throughout the years, residents and environmental organisations in Thailand have taken legal action to urge the government to address pollution.

In July of last year, approximately 1,700 individuals in Chiang Mai filed a lawsuit against former Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and two state agencies. They accused them of not taking action to decrease pollution in the northern region, claiming that it was reducing their life expectancy by around five years each.

Earlier this year, a court in Chiang Mai mandated the government to develop an urgent strategy to enhance air quality within 90 days.

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