Hazy Bangkok skyline

Bangkok. Photo: sndrk / Getty Image

The authors conducted a study that explored air-pollution exposure levels and beliefs about exposure levels in different districts of Bangkok. They examined the extent of exposure of different groups according to various characteristics, including occupation and income level.

The aim of the study was to identify potential policy options to reduce exposure to air pollution, and to help address the health impacts of such exposure.

Though the very high air-pollution levels in Bangkok threaten the health of those throughout the area, exposure is higher for some groups as a result of conditions they face at work, and in their homes and neighbourhoods. This brief suggests that higher levels of exposure occur from working outdoors or in occupations involving (or near to) cooking; and from living near train tracks and highways; in poor, informal settlements; and in homes that lack air conditioning.

It suggests that informal workers were more likely than formal workers to experience one or more health symptoms that likely stem from exposure to air pollution. A majority of people surveyed had low levels of awareness about air quality in the areas where they work and live. Their perceptions about the extent of their own exposure to air pollution largely depended on their beliefs about the air quality in their districts rather than on information from the government’s air-quality monitoring.

The brief puts forward six measures to address these issues in Bangkok. The authors advocate:

1) improving communication about the level of air pollution and the harms
from exposure;

2) expanding access to affordable health care and health insurance;

3) providing masks to those who are most exposed;

4) expanding labour safety training;

5) improving vehicle emission inspections schemes and adopting other policies
to reduce air pollution and generate revenue to fund protective measures; and

6) providing training and capacity-building to improve pollution monitoring.

This publication was updated on 23 March 2023 to reflect a missing reference.