A civic network in the northern provinces is stepping up calls for the government to adjust air quality guidelines to bring them in line with international standards and further reduce the health impact of seasonal air pollution.
Bannarot Buakhli, a member of the Breathe Council formed to solve the pollution crisis in the northern region, told an online discussion that the network will launch a campaign this month to lobby for new air quality guidelines.
The current air quality index for hazardous particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns, or PM2.5, is not in line with the international standard, so it does not truly reflect air pollution hazards and cannot protect people’s health, he said.
Mr Buakhli said the Thai air quality index shows PM2.5 levels of 76 microgrammes per cubic metre as within the “orange” category, or unhealthy for sensitive groups. However, these PM2.5 levels fall within the “red” category, or unhealthy, in the US air quality index.
The Breathe Council is urging the government to adopt the 24-hour mean and annual mean of WHO global air quality guidelines. Under these, the 24-hour mean of PM2.5 levels is 37 microgrammes per cubic metre and the annual mean is 15 microgrammes per cubic metre.
The so-called safe level of PM2.5 is 50 microgrammes per cubic metre, according to Air4Thai, operated by the Pollution Control Department (PCD).
Mr Buakhli said the region is developing a Northern Thailand Air Quality Health Index (NTAQHI) after the successful development of Chiang Mai Air Quality Health Index to monitor air pollution and alert residents of health risks.
Nakhon Junjanam, a council member based in Lamphun, suggested the network launch an all-year campaign to raise public awareness.