The Lessons Learned from PM2.5 and Right to Clean Air - Foundation Office Thailand
According to the Pollution Control Department (PCD), during the beginning of the season, between Jan 1 to Feb 15, nearly 19,000 (18,988) hotspots had occurred in the region, or a 118% increase compared to last year’s record of 8,698 already. The PM2.5 air pollution reached its peak in March, when its 24-hour concentration level rose over 500 μg/m³. The country’s safety limit stands at 50 μg/m³ and the WHO’s is recommended at 15 μg/m³.
By the end of March, over two million people since Jan 1 had had their health affected by the haze, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe effects, according to the ministry. The most notable symptoms were involved with respiratory systems, but long-term exposure could also cause chronic health problems including lung cancer.
At the end of the fire season, the PCD noted that the average 24-hour concentration level of PM2.5 in the North was at 63 μg/m³ or a 110% increase from last year’s 30 μg/m³. The number of days with PM2.5 beyond the safe limit stood at 112 days, or a 60% increase from last year’s 70 days, and the hotspots recorded for the whole season stood at 108,984, or a 356% increase from last year’s 23,877.
While causes or motivations of these forest fires are varied, officials concerned have pointed out that almost all of them are human-driven, relating closely to the conventional utilisation of forests and hilly farmland by the locals to sustain their farm-based livelihoods; ranging from farmland expansion, clearing of farm residues in the fields, grazing, wildlife hunting, and collecting of forest products. All are typical to seasonal fire burning elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
The PCD chief, Dr. Pinsak Suraswadi, noted that the problem was not just about PM2.5 or forest fires here. It’s actually about the unsustainable use of natural resources here and elsewhere. It’s a social and economic problem that occurs almost everywhere now and will continue on and on if we cannot address its causes or drivers clearly. The challenge now is whether Thailand has learned this hard lesson and managed to address the true causes as well as coming up with new measures and policies to address them proportionately.
The Media Dialogue Forum organised by the Bangkok Tribune News Agency and its partners would cordially like to invite you to take this opportunity to explore this challenge together at Dialogue Forum 4 l Year 4: The Lessons Learned from PM2.5 and Right to Clean Air (in Thai) on October 26, 2023, 10 am-12.30 pm at SEA-Junction, BACC’s building (4th Floor).
10:00 hrs Registration
10:25 hrs Brief introduction of the forum
10:30 hrs Overview: The Lessons Learned from PM2.5 in 2023 and Its Impacts
10:40 hrs Forum Discussion: The Lessons Learned from PM2.5 and Right to Clean Air
- Mr. Naruepol Thipmontha, Director, Forest Protection and Fire Control Office, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant (DNP)
- Dr. Buntoon Srethasirote, Executive Director, Good Governance for Social Development and the Environment Institute (GSEI) and Chairman of the government appointed working group on draft Clean Air Act
- Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kanongnij Sribuaiam, Co-founder of Thai Can and Lecturer at Faculty of Law, Chulalongkorn University
- Mr. Bunnaroth Buaklee, an advisor to the Northern Breathe Council’s knowledge and policy section
Moderator: Ms. Wipaporn Wattanawit, Assistant Editor at Decode.Plus and TV News Anchor, Thai PBS