Residents living near biomass power plants in the Surin province of Thailand are being exposed to higher levels of dust particles than is recommended by the World Health Organisation, according to a recent government study.
The results were reported by an expert from the Department of Health's Health Impact Assessment division, which carried out the study. The expert, Sukanda Padpadee, explained that her study looked at the air breathed by residents living around four biomass power plants of varying capacity. She found that there was between 0.047 and 0.188 milligrams per cubic meter of dust in the air. She also found that there were high levels of dust particles measuring less than 10 microns in diameter and even 2.5 microns in diameter. These tiny particles are particularly dangerous when inhaled.
Speaking at the Public Health Ministry's annual academic conference in September, Padpadee explained that her study reveals that biomass power plants do emit microscopic dust particles that exceed WHO recommended levels and that steps should therefore be taken to protect people living in the vicinity of such power plants.
In Thailand, like in much of Europe and the United States, there has recently been an increase in biomass power plants as a result of endorsements and encouragement from the country's National Energy Policy Council. Many governments around the world have been supporting the rolling out of biomass plants under the incorrect assumption that they provide clean, renewable energy. The evidence is becoming increasingly clear that burning trees to generate energy is bad for public health and the environment.