How air treatment solutions can help tackle Thailand's PM2.5 pollution problem
Cutting-edge technologies and research pave the way for cleaner air, better public health, studies show.
The issue of PM2.5 dust pollution has spurred various political parties in Thailand to propose policies aimed at controlling dust intensity and mitigating its impact on public health.
The current air quality standard in the country sets the maximum allowable level of PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter) at 50 micrograms per cubic meter, averaged over a 24-hour period. However, it is evident that PM2.5 concentrations often exceed these standards during certain periods, leading to adverse implications for public health and the economy.
In an integrated research study on technology and social aspects conducted by the National Research Council of Thailand, supported through the Science, Research, and Innovation Fund, a team led by Assoc Prof Sirima Panyametheekul from Chulalongkorn University has highlighted the importance of technology focused on emission source control for effectively treating air pollutants.
The feasibility, suitability, and effectiveness of such technologies for pollution treatment must be carefully considered.
The study analysed the feasibility and suitability of applying technology to address PM2.5 pollution, taking the case of Bangkok as an example.
Data from November 2020 to February 2021 revealed that the average 24-hour PM2.5 concentration in January 2021 exceeded the national air quality standard, reaching 80mcg per cubic metre.
The study identified two types of air treatment systems to meet the air quality standards:
High-efficiency system: This system utilises electrostatic charge combined with the release of water droplets to capture dust and employs a jet venturi scrubber system.
With an air suction rate of 120,000 cubic metres per hour, the cost per unit is approximately 2 million baht. To align with the 24-hour PM2.5 standard, the installation of 162 units in the Phya Thai district would require an estimated budget of around 320 million baht.
High air suction rate system: Based on the Indian standard, this system employs bag filter technology for dust treatment. With an air suction rate of 1.44 million cubic metres per hour, the investment cost per unit is approximately 7 million baht. Adapting this system to the Phya Thai district would require an estimated budget of around 94 million baht to reduce PM2.5 concentrations in line with the hourly standard.
Notably, these figures are specific to the study's context and provided data, and actual costs may vary based on various factors.
The study also explored the installation of air purifiers within shared buildings. In this case, the use of air purifiers utilising fibrous filter media, which operate through dry filtration, may be considered. While these purifiers have the advantage of filtering various particulate matter types, their efficiency may be lower compared to technologies like electrostatic precipitation and Ionisers, which utilise electrostatic charges for particle capture. The selection of technology depends on budget considerations.
Assoc Prof Sirima emphasised the importance of presenting the pros, cons, limitations, feasibility, and suitability of these technologies for addressing Thailand's specific issues. Government agencies can use this information as supporting data to make informed decisions and set guidelines for promoting the application of technology in PM2.5 pollution control.
The aim is to effectively address public health concerns and minimise the long-term impact on the population's well-being.
As Thailand continues its efforts to combat PM2.5 pollution, a comprehensive approach that combines technology, research, and policy will be crucial in achieving cleaner and healthier air for all.