More than 90 per cent of the population in Thailand are living in poorer air conditions than the safety standard set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and this condition can shorten the average lifespan of Thais by 1.8 years, according to a report by Air Quality Life Index.
|Haze covers Bangkok, the capital of Thailand on January 27. (Source: AFP/VNA) |
Bangkok – More than 90 per cent of the population in Thailand are living in poorer air conditions than the safety standard set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and this condition can shorten the average lifespan of Thais by 1.8 years, according to a report by Air Quality Life Index.
WHO stipulates that PM 2.5 does not exceed 50 micrograms per 1 cu.m of air is a safe level.
Air pollution, notably PM2.5 fine dust, caused by the burning of plantations, especially sugarcane, affects around 44 million people in Thailand every year, the Industry Ministry reported, adding that long-term exposure to fine dust is linked with chronic diseases including lung and heart problems.
Thai farmers resort to burning their fields after harvest to get rid of the stumps. This method, while cost-saving, creates huge environmental impacts.
The Thai government has proposed measures to address the fine dust problem since 2019, including arresting farmers caught breaking the law by burning crops.
According to the ministry, burning crops is not only illegal but also creates a burden on society as air pollution from the smoke can linger in the atmosphere above densely populated areas for up to six months.
The affected areas are the North, the Northeast, the East, and the Central region including the Bangkok metropolitan area, which have a combined population of about 44 million people.
To help sugarcane farmers struggling financially, the ministry has been providing a subsidy of 120 THB (3.4 USD) per tonne of output to hire labour or buy equipment to properly and cleanly get rid of the harvest stumps, noting that 14.38 billion THB has so far been disbursed.
It also supports farmers interested in using modern technology in sugarcane harvesting to reduce the need to burn their fields, the ministry added.
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