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12 Apr 2023

Econ Digest

PM2.5 crisis could get worse if not addressed quickly


        The PM2.5 pollution is not a short-term crisis. It will likely become much worse in the future if it is not addressed quickly. According to the Air Quality Monitoring Station at Sri Phum Sub-district, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai, the province’s air quality in April 2023 is the worst ever recorded in many years. One of the main causes of PM2.5 that tend to cause severe exceedances at the end of the year and the beginning of the following year, is the burning before new crops start or at harvest time. Amid the protracted Ukraine war and the ongoing food crisis in many countries around the world, crop outputs in Thailand and neighboring countries are likely to continue to increase this year, supported by economic recovery and demand.

        Nonetheless, KResearch estimates that opportunity costs of the PM2.5 crisis during the five days of the Songkran Festival (April 13-17, 2023) on tourism in northern Thailand will reach at least THB700 million. According to a poll on domestic travel during the Songkran Festival, the number of Bangkok residents intending to visit northern provinces, particularly Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, fell by 30% on average from that reported during the same period of last year. Such impact on other provinces may vary, however. The PM2.5 crisis has also affected public health, which is difficult to quantify in terms of economic values. Given this, immediate actions to combat the PM2.5 pollution are needed, particularly in the most-affected provinces. Additionally, measures should be implemented to support the transition of supply chains in both the manufacturing and service sectors towards environmental sustainability.

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Econ Digest