The level of ultrafine dust particles exceeding safety standards in Greater Bangkok is expected to prolong until March 2019. Given this, KResearch has revised our forecast of its effect on the Thai economy in terms of opportunity costs incurred from health and tourism related issues, as well as other business issues resulting from changes in consumer behavior to cope with the high level of hazardous dust particles, as follows:
1. Opportunity costs incurred from health and tourism related issues have been revised upward to approximately THB14.5 billion chiefly because of the prolonged period of air pollution and additional opportunity costs from other items. Immediate effects arising from the high level of dust particles include:
- Opportunity costs incurred from health related issues: These include treatment expenses arising from those already suffering from allergic reactions and respiratory diseases, plus new patients of those diseases, along with additional costs of air pollution masks in accordance with the prolonged period of dust pollution.
- Opportunity costs incurred from tourism related issues: These include expenses arising from changes in travel plans to Bangkok by Thai and international tourists, as well as expenses stemming from the fact that certain Bangkok residents may delay their trips in the country.
- Additional expenses arising from changes in Bangkok residents' behavior to avoid or prevent ultrafine dust particles. These include spending on air purifiers and avoiding dining out, thus hurting food vendors, restaurants and outdoor eateries.
2. A survey conducted by KResearch shows that 88.0 percent of the respondents have been affected by the level of ultrafine dust particles exceeding safety standards. However, a majority of them has changed their behavior to cope with the problem, such as going out to shopping or dining less frequently, wearing air pollution masks, avoiding outdoor activities, changing their planned holiday destinations and suspending trips during this time.
The current dust pollution problem has eased somewhat, thanks to a concerted effort by all sectors. However, long-term solutions will require a continuation of concrete policies from the government and cooperation from all sectors. If sustainable solutions can be reached, they will benefit our public health and the country's image.