20,000 Hospitalised as Emissions Cause Severe Smog in Thailand

Khalifi Zunberg

Thailand may be surrounded by beautiful mountains and beaches, but in the early weeks of March 2023, its capital city, Bangkok, was covered in smog. Even though authorities advised everyone to stay indoors around 200,000 people were still affected and got hospitalised. (Some people even doubled their masks.) Smog is […]

Thailand may be surrounded by beautiful mountains and beaches, but in the early weeks of March 2023, its capital city, Bangkok, was covered in smog. Even though authorities advised everyone to stay indoors around 200,000 people were still affected and got hospitalised. (Some people even doubled their masks.)

Smog is a yellowish brown/grey fog-like and hazy type of air pollution. Anyone who is exposed to it will have difficulty breathing as it can easily irritate airways. Smog also irritates the eyes and nose. Its components – carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and the secondary pollutant ground-level ozone, have adverse impacts on a person exposed to smog.

The smog in Thailand, specifically in the cities of Chiang Mai and Bangkok, was primarily caused by burning crop smoke, emissions from the industrial sector, and diesel vehicle fumes. In a week, hundreds of thousands of the elderly, children, pregnant women, and citizens were affected. The government even created rooms that would keep children safe from smog. These were equipped with air purifiers.

According to an authority from public health, around 1.3 million people have become ill in Thailand since the start of 2023. These cases were all caused by exposure to air pollution, which has become the primary cause of death. Toxic air has caused more premature deaths than cigarette smoking and obesity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) published a report on the State of Global Air showing proof that premature deaths due to air pollution takes up 8% of the total cases of deaths in Thailand since 2019. Particulate matter (PM2.5) topped the list of risks.

The public health secretary of Thailand, Opart Karnkawinpong, also shared that PM2.5 levels in 15 of the country’s provinces were over 51µg/m3 for three days. The past two years registered lower levels mostly due to lesser travel traffic and pollution because of the pandemic. The levels are significantly higher this year.

Greenpeace Thailand’s Alliya Moun-Ob described how Thailand looked like and felt when the smog was covering them. It was the worst case residents have seen in years – Chiang Mai’s mountains weren’t visible. Even the tall buildings in Bangkok couldn’t be seen.

Agricultural burning used to be a regular practice in Thailand before a February three-month ban was implemented. Despite the ban, though, the burning continues. The practice contributed to the poor quality of air in the country.

Chadchart Sittipunt, governor of Bangkok, promised during the elections that priority would be given to city environment improvement. He swore to issue the same order if a situation would require him to do so.

NOx emissions

Diesel vehicles emit nitrogen oxides (NOx), a highly reactive group of gases. NOx is dangerous for the environment. It produces ground-level ozone, which destroys vegetation. NOx also contributes to the formation of smog and acid rain.

Diesel emissions became a household name in 2015 after the Volkswagen Group was allegedly caught using defeat devices. US authorities ordered them to recall the hundreds of thousands of diesel Audi and VW vehicles that were affected.

Authorities said Volkswagen used defeat devices to control emissions so that vehicles will easily pass emissions testing and be approved for selling and driving. The devices can sense when a vehicle is about to be tested, so when it starts, emissions are immediately – albeit temporarily – lowered to fit WHO standards. When regulators check the vehicle, they’ll see one that’s emissions-compliant and ready for driving.

This changes as soon as the vehicle is brought out of the lab for driving on real roads. The vehicle releases excessive volumes of NOx, which means it is a pollutant. Volkswagen lied to customers to make them believe that the vehicle they bought high-performing vehicles.

Other carmakers have also been implicated in the scandal, including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Vauxhall.

NOx causes negative health impacts. It can cause your cognitive health to decline thereby increasing your risk of dementia.

Your mental health may also be compromised and you’ll experience episodes of depression and anxiety.

Health impacts are plenty but the ones that can hound you for life include asthma, respiratory diseases such as those in the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) group, laryngospasm and asphyxiation, and cancer. Exposure to NOx emissions can also cause cardiovascular conditions, which are the most common causes of premature deaths recorded worldwide.

Yes, constant exposure to nitrogen oxides has been identified as a leading cause of premature deaths across the world every year.

These impacts should be more than enough reason for affected car owners to file a diesel emissions case against their carmakers.

What’s my diesel claim all about?

A diesel claim is legal action that you can bring against your carmaker for several reasons:

  • They lied about the defeat devices in your vehicle
  • They exposed you to NOx emissions and other pollutants
  • Their actions caused your vehicle’s performance to suffer
  • They made you pay a premium amount for a compromised vehicle

If your emissions claim is successful, you will receive compensation, the amount of which will depend on the details of your case.

You can choose to work with an emissions expert and file an individual claim or you can join a Group Litigation Order (GLO). A GLO is similar to the class-action lawsuit of Americans.

Before starting your diesel claim process, you should first visit ClaimExperts.co.uk to verify if you are eligible to receive compensation. You’ll get all the information you need to push through with your case.

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