CSOs and local groups file a lawsuit to demand government action against PM2.5 pollution
PRESS RELEASE 22 March 2022
Bangkok- Representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) and environmental advocates today filed a lawsuit against three public departments, including the National Environment Board, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Ministry of Industry for neglecting their mandate of protecting Thai citizens’ basic rights to clean air. 
A lawsuit was pushed after the Environmental Law Foundation (EnLaw) and Greenpeace Thailand submitted a petition letter to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Industry on January, 17. The petition demanded that those two public departments implement the Action the Plan for Driving National Agenda on “Solving the Problem of Particulate Matter” 2019.
Later, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) reacted, stating that at this point, only total particulate matter from industrial manufacturers has been detected, without specifying PM2.5. MONRE said that its own 2020 plan of action to combat PM2.5 is still in draft form. The Ministry of Industry's response further stated that the establishment of a standard for PM2.5 emissions from industrial manufacturing is now being studied and is being prepared to be harmonized with an international standard.
Meanwhile, all relevant government agencies have also been negligent, delaying the implementation of the Action the Plan for Driving National Agenda on “Solving the Problem of Particulate Matter”, posing more serious health risks to people including a shorter life expectancy.
4 Key Demands by CSOs  :
1. The National Environment Board announces or amends a new ambient air standard of PM2.5 based on the public hearing and proposal made by the Pollution Control Department in accordance with WHO interim target 3. The new average annual level for PM2.5 changed from 25 μg/m3 in 2010 to 15 μg/m3. The new 24-hour level changed from 50 μg/m3 in 2010 to 37 μg/m3.
2. The National Environment Board and the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment jointly announce or amend the PM2.5 emission standard for industrial smoke stacks and other related point sources, as specified in Section 55 of the Enhancement and Conservation of Environmental Quality Act B.E. 2535, in accordance with international standards.
3. The Minister of Industry announces or amends the Ministry's Notifications regarding the release of air pollutants from factories in which PM2.5 emissions must not exceed the standard established and be consistent with international guidelines.
4. The Minister of Industry announces the inclusion of PM2.5 to the list of pollutants or chemicals that industrial facilities are required to publicly disclose and prepare to report under Ministerial Regulation No. 27 (B.E. 2563), which is governed by the Factory Act B.E. 2535. The Minister of Industry is responsible for ensuring that, under the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR), effective mechanisms are in place to empower ordinary citizens and civil society to participate in monitoring, auditing, and protecting public health from PM2.5.
Dr. Suphat Hasuwankit, president of the Rural Doctors Society and the joint plaintiff, said:
"The ambient air standard for PM2.5 in Thailand remains too high and nearly five times higher than the new guideline recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is terrible pollution that affects public health. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can combine to become PM2.5. Although most of the industrial factories and fossil fuel power plants claim that their emissions do not exceed the standard regulated by the Pollution Control Department, every elevated concentration, in medical terms, will lead to an increased risk of various diseases. As a result, even if the air quality conforms to the standard, people still get sick from being chronically exposed to a low level of pollution for a long time, which is called chronic low dose exposure”.
Additionally, the Ministry of Public Health's Announcement regarding "Kinds or significant symptoms of environmental diseases B.E. 2563," which was published in the Government Gazette on February 1, 2021, and defined health disorders caused by PM2.5 as environmental diseases, should serve as a reminder to responsible government agencies to pursue a more stringent PM2.5 standard. Meanwhile, after 10 years of surveillance operations aimed at preventing and controlling the consequences of environmental disease, Thailand has maintained the existing PM2.5 ambient air standard with a "harmful" PM2.5 concentration threshold of 91 micrograms per cubic meter or greater. This rule creates a loophole for monitoring, alerting, and warning during PM2.5 crises. Additionally, it obstructs proactive prevention of PM2.5's impacts with the aim of minimizing the national Thai population's morbidity and premature mortality rates. [3,4,5]
Nanticha Ocharoenchai, campaigner and public speaker for the environment as well as joint plaintiff said: "Children currently born in Thailand are forced to breathe polluted air. There are many children that might not know how the "clean air" would be. We all need to breathe to live, therefore, the neglect and delayed action of government agencies has deprived fundamental rights like clean air.”
Alliya Moun-ob, Energy Transition Coordinator, Greenpeace Thailand said: "Aside from upgrading the ambient air standard for PM2.5, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, as well as the Ministry of Industry, are required to establish strong measures to prevent pollution at sources. It is the most cost-effective strategy to address PM2.5 pollution at its source rather than as a consequence. It's also the most effective way to protect people's lives from the harmful effects of PM2.5.”
As the main responsible agency for the Action the Plan for Driving National Agenda on “Solving the Problem of Particulate Matter” that the Cabinet approved in 2019 , the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Ministry of Industry are both obliged to comply with this plan in addition to the aforementioned legal duties. The mentioned plan has divided measures into short-term measures (2019-2021) and long-term measures (2022-2024). According to this timeframe, it means that the last year of the implementation of the short-term measures has passed and these government agencies have to start implementing long-term measures. However, there is still some delay in state action, and does not go according to plan.
Penchom Saetang, Director of Ecological Alert and Recovery (EARTH) - Thailand said:
"According to the guidelines of short-term operations (2019-2021) under the Action the Plan for Driving National Agenda on “Solving the Problem of Particulate Matter”, the government must already establish a directory of Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) and should be implemented as part of the PM2.5 solution as soon as possible. However, the draft law on the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) that the Department of Industrial Works has prepared and opened for public hearings as explained by the Ministry of Industry's statement dated February 14, 2022, there is no requirement to declare to the public of the emission information, particularly the details about the source of pollution, type of pollution and amount of produced pollution which is a key principle of PRTR law that is globally applicable. In addition, the draft law does not include "PM2.5" in the "Targeted Pollutants and Chemicals List" to be measured. The clarification is therefore obviously vague.”
Sureerat Treemanka from Chiang Mai Breath Council said:
“Chiang Mai and several northern provinces are facing the problem of PM2.5 dust at a critical level every year. We can't stand it anymore. Government sectors need to seriously solve air pollution problems as every Thai citizen should equally have the right to access to clean air"
Surachai Trongngam, Secretary of EnLAW Foundation said:
"Government agencies responsible for environmental protection have been sluggish in addressing PM2.5 pollution in a timely manner. It undermines the right of people to live in a healthy environment. Thus, the task of all people is to examine the competency of power holders to accomplish their obligations. This litigation intends to effect changes that will allow for a faster and more efficient action to the PM2.5 crisis, as recognized and protected by the Constitution and the law.”
If the government keeps ignoring the country's pollution crisis, Thai citizens can join and support this lawsuit against relevant government agencies for failing to fulfill their legal obligations and for failing to take effective measures to address PM2.5 pollution.
For those who seek to put an end to the violation of the right to clean air, which is a fundamental human right, visit https://act.seasia.greenpeace.org/th/right-to-clean-air
#RightToCleanAir #ขออากาศดีคืนมา #CleanAirNow
 EnLAWThai Foundation, Greenpeace Thailand, EARTH Ecological Alert and Recover Foundation (EARTH), Northern Region Breath Council, Chiang Mai Breath Council, along with Dr. Suphat Hasuwankit and social activist and Nanticha Ocharoenchai.
 See the plaint summary https://act.gp/3IsnHKr
 (Draft) Supporting documents aiming to improve PM 2.5 ambient standard, Pollution Control Department https://www.pcd.go.th/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/pcdnew-2021-01-28_08-42-24_325315.pdf
 Greenpeace Thailand’s opinion towards the announcement of the Thai Ministry of Public Health 2020 which designated diseases or symptoms caused by exposure to PM2.5 particles as environmental diseases. https://www.greenpeace.org/thailand/press/18918/climate-pm25-diseases-symptoms-caused-by-exposure-to- pm25-are-environmental-diseases/
 Action the Plan for Driving National Agenda on “Solving the Problem of Particulate Matter” 2019 https://www.pcd.go.th/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/pcdnew-2021-02-18_08-03-46_086635.pdf