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Thailand’s Pollution Crisis

Thailand can be known for many things, TV shows, elite tourist attractions and its great cities like Bangkok and Phuket. However under all the good, what many don’t know is that Thailand suffers from a severe case of air pollution that is nowhere near fixed. It’s not as bad as it was before, but still, currently, the World Health Organization has declared Thailand’s air quality to be “moderately unsafe”. This is unsafe enough to shred 2-4 years off your life depending on where you are in Thailand (Bangkok Post).

What is the cause of this air pollution? The economy. Thailand, once a developing country, is now seen as a newly industrialized country (Silvers). This change in status is a good thing for the economy because it is creating more industrial jobs and steering Thai citizens away the from the agricultural jobs that were solely available to them in the past, but because the country was - and still is - growing at a rate that scientists can’t keep up with it, which makes it harder for them to keep up with the pace of industrialization. The need to keep up with the pace of industrialization had outweighed the short term necessity for clean energy sources to use, so Thailand stuck to fossil fuels, and other unclean energy sources. Because of all the smog, dirt, and dust from construction, traffic, and factories in 2019, 400 schools in Bangkok were forced to close just to keep children from the harms of breathing in smog (BBC News). Smog is a harmful mixture of air pollutants that can form together to create ground-level ozone that can harm people and the environment (West).

Thailand's government is actively trying to combat pollution but their issue is pace. Since industrial companies just got off the ground running, lowering the sulfur content in Thailand has been delayed for over 13 years because the businesses lobbying the government against the reforms (Bangkok Post). The Thai government did finally pass the implementation of new emission standards but the government is forced to give five-year grace periods to the business (Bangkok Post). Some worry that it is too much time and this government plan is not going to help the growing crisis they are in, because out of the 3.1 Trillion Baht budget given in 2019 to the government, only four percent of that went to fighting the issue. This is over 20 times less than the average cost to combat air pollution (Bangkok Post).

Thailand became a stronger newly industrialized country less than a decade ago, which is a feat not many countries can accomplish. Now that they are established, they need to go back and fix this environmental issue, to not only better their economy, but for the future generations of Thailand who may be granted a less than livable country to fix. Stopping pollution by yourself isn’t possible but doing little things like using less plastic, taking public transportation or a bike, even turning off the lights in the daytime can help.


Bangkok schools closed over “unhealthy” pollution levels. (2019, January 30). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-47057128

Roengjit, S. (n.d.). The pollution paralysis: Thailand’s structural inability to clean up its air. Bangkok Post. https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/special-reports/1796019/the-pollution-paralysis-thailands-structural-inability-to-clean-up-its-air

Silver, M. (2015, January 4). If you shouldn’t call it the third world, what should you call it? NPR.Org. Retrieved March 7, 2021, from https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/01/04/372684438/if-you-shouldnt-call-it-the-third-world-what-should-you-call-it

Third world countries 2021. (n.d.). World Population Review. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/third-world-countries

West, L. (2020, November 30). What causes smog? Treehugger. https://www.treehugger.com/what-is-smog-causes-and-effects-1204194

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