Thailand, one of the countries in the South-East Asia Region, is largely tropical. People who live in this sun-intense area cannot avoid risking exposure to the high concentrations of UV radiation. The incidence of skin cancer in this country is not uncommon and is found in males more than females. Over the past few decades, Thailand's dramatic economic growth brought about new environmental challenges in the once-agrarian economy. The transition of a former agricultural and mainly rural, to a modern industrialized society has confronted the country with a wide range of environmental problems including air, water and soil pollution, as well as difficulties in the management of waste and hazardous chemicals. In parallel, such modern democratic developments and increasing societal complexity have resulted in both short-term and long-term public health issues in Thailand. Among the environmental problems listed above, air pollution appears to be the main factor. Air pollution in Thailand is obviously caused by vehicles, industrial emissions and fossil fuel power plants; other sources are garbage burning, open cooking and agricultural burning practices including deliberate forest fires. The health risks from being exposed to air pollution include nausea, headache, allergic reaction, respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer. Focusing on the Map Ta Phut district, Rayong Province, where a significant industrial base of Thailand is located, Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate consists of oil refineries, coal-fired power plants, steel industries, plastic factories and other petrochemical facilities that the cumulative amount of emitted air pollution, from industrial activity, has affected the environment and those who live nearby. Map Ta Phut came to public attention when a thousand pupils and teachers at a local school in the area had to be hospitalized from inhaling toxic emissions, leading to a number of studies. Detected in the environment were beyond-safety-standard airborne cancerous toxic chemicals, and several types of carcinogenic compounds. There were findings of unusually high levels of benzene, higher genetic damage levels of red blood cells, and significant elevation of some biomarkers of oxidative stress levels in the industrial estate workers and/or nearby residents. The terrifying outcome was from studies showing the unusually high cancer rates in the area. This serious impact on the environment and people’s health, has led to public movement and at the present time, Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate is proclaimed as a Pollution Control Zone. Environment quality has to be measured regularly and the pollution has to be reduced if is too high. This improvement is now under continuous observation.


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  • Received: 07 May 2012
  • Accepted: 07 May 2012
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