About 38 million Thais are living in an environment that puts them at risk of falling ill with common diseases associated with prolonged exposure to frequently hazardous levels of PM2.5 ultra-fine dust particles, health authorities warned yesterday.
This group constitutes all those people living in areas where PM2.5 levels exceed 50 microgrammes per cubic metre, 15 million of whom — including children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with respiratory problems — risk suffering particularly severe health complains, said Dr Danai Teewanda, deputy director-general of the Department of Health.
Statistics collected from 2017 until last year showed these people have developed four groups of diseases commonly linked to PM2.5 dust exposure, namely cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer, he said.
On average, lung cancer, for instance, costs about 200,000 baht per patient per month in healthcare expenses, whereas living in areas with good air quality can largely curb these health problems, he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently issued its first air quality guidelines since 2005 aimed at reducing deaths from key pollutants that cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, said Uma Rajarathnam, a regional advisor on chemical safety, environment and air pollution to the World Health Organization South-East Asia Region.
Under the new guidelines, WHO halved the recommended limit for average annual PM2.5 level from 10 microgrammes per cubic metre to 5 and average daily PM2.5 level to 15 microgrammes per cubic metre from 25 previously.
These guidelines are intended for the governments to refer to when considering adjusting their policies to curb air pollution to better protect the health of their people, she said.Internet Explorer Channel Network