Although Cambodia’s industrial sector is dominated by manufacturing and construction, the textile and garment sector is a key sector for jobs in both rural and urban areas.
Although the sector creates jobs and brings income, it also causes pollution that creates serious health impacts especially for the workers. In this episode of SEI Asia’s podcast miniseries on Air Pollution in the World of Work, we are joined by Chandath Him, Deputy Director on Air Quality in the Noise and Vibration Management Department of the Ministry of Environment in Cambodia. He explores how the different ministries and actors are collaborating to address the multidimensional problems of air pollution, and ensure that the textile industries comply with the relevant air pollution standards.
In the textile industry, the main sources of air pollution are from boilers that use fuelwood. The burning of wood releases pollutants including soot and particulate matter, nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide.
The Government of Cambodia is aware that air pollution is a multidimensional problem and is therefore seeking solutions through collaborations among different agencies and with efforts such as the 2021 Clean Air Plan.
SEI’s ongoing research in Cambodia is attempting to close the scientific gaps in the 2021 Clean Air Act because it was developed based on desk-based studies and lacks data from the field.
“A main constraint [we face] is the lack of human resources, in particular, the skill to analyze and assess the impact of air pollution on health of workers. We do not have specific methodology or tools,” Him said.
SEI’s study is obtaining air pollution data from 16 factories to better understand the level and quantity of air pollution emissions and the impacts on health of garment factory workers. In future, the research aims to expand across 600 factories in Cambodia.
“Our survey is based on [their] willing to join. The factories that are operating below the required pollution standards are not willing to join. So this is one of the challenges we face,” Him said.
This is an excerpt of a podcast conversation with Chandath Him for the second episode of the SEI Asia podcast miniseries “Air Pollution in the World of Work”. Chandath is one of our research partners in the “The impact of air pollution on the world of work for women and youth in East and Southeast Asia” project.
Listen to the podcast below: