By SURASAK KRUAKHAM
“We have already raised the issue with the Nong Bua Lamphu governor and public health chief,” Assoc Professor Puangrat Kajitvichyanukul from Naresuan University said earlier this week.
She spoke out after her team collected soil and water samples in Ban Khlong Charoen sub-district.
Last year, at least 102 people in Nong Bua Lamphu came down with Necrotising fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease. Six of them died from the disease.
“Although our findings cannot yet confirm the link between the disease and Paraquat, we have found this a cause for concern,” Puangrat said.
An exposure to Paraquat can cause burns, wounds and blisters.
Puangrat said she had decided to speak out about finding high concentrations of Paraquat in Ban Khlong Charoen sub-district before her research concluded because she felt urgent action must be taken.
“A local reservoir is surrounded by sugarcane and rubber plantations,” she said.
Local residents also did not use proper tap-water filters because they believed the use of filters slowed the water flow.
She added that her team had found that farmers often used concentrations of the chemical that were four to eight times greater than what was recommended on labels.
Puangrat said she hoped relevant agencies would act quickly to address the problem, because farmers generally started using chemicals at their farms beginning in April.
Her team conducted the research through a collaboration of her university, the Nong Bua Maphu Public Health Office and a local research-promotion office.