Environmental groups, RDS sue govt for ‘failing to protect citizens’ from PM2.5


Environmental groups on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against three government agencies – the Industry Ministry, National Resources and Environment Ministry and National Environmental Board (NEB) – accusing them of failing to protect citizens’ right to clean air.

The lawsuit came after Greenpeace and the Environmental Law Foundation (EnLAW) sent a letter to the two ministries on January 17, demanding they take action against PM2.5 by implementing the 2019 national agenda on “Solving the Problem of Particulate Matter”.

The lawsuit, which was co-signed by the Rural Doctors Society (RDS), also demanded that the government amend Thailand’s pollution control regulations in line with international standards.

The World Health Organisation recommends that PM2.5 should not exceed 15 micrograms (mcg) per millilitre of air for more than 4 days per year. Thailand, however, sets this level at 50mcg.

Meanwhile, the US, Japan, South Korea, European countries, Singapore and Malaysia set the safe level at 35-37mcg.

Environmental groups, RDS sue govt for ‘failing to protect citizens’ from PM2.5

“The ambient air standard for PM2.5 in Thailand remains too high and nearly five times higher than the new guideline recommended by the World Health Organisation,” said Dr Suphat Hasuwankit, president of the Rural Doctors Society and a co-plaintiff. “It is terrible pollution that affects public health,” he added.

The environmental groups also demanded that the NEB and Environment Ministry announce or amend limits on industrial PM2.5 emission as required by Thai law. Meanwhile the Industry Ministry must add PM2.5 to the list of polluting emissions that industrial facilities are required to publicly disclose, they said.

Environmental groups, RDS sue govt for ‘failing to protect citizens’ from PM2.5

The groups also accused the government of reinforcing inequality by focusing its pollution-control efforts on the capital rather than other provinces.

For instance, 74 large air quality meters have been set up in Bangkok and its surrounding areas compared to just 16 in the Northeast.

Also, government efforts to tackle air pollution were focused on the agricultural sector and communities near forests rather than the industrial sector and cities, added the groups.