Abstracts: ISEE 22nd Annual Conference, Seoul, Korea, 28 August–1 September 2010: Climate Change and Environmental Health
Rise in global temperature is well documented. Thailand is experiencing similar trend with an increase of about 1°C over a 20-year period. Changes in temperature lead to increases in heat exposure which has ranges of health effects, from mild heat rashes to deadly heat stroke. Heat exposure can also aggravate several chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and respiratory disease. This study examined the relationship between climate condition and health status and productivity in 2 main categories of occupational setting where 1 setting involves heat generated from the industry and the other with heat in a natural setting.
This cross-sectional study included 4 industrial sites (pottery industry, power plant, knife industry, and construction site) and 1 agricultural site in Pathum Thani and Ayutthaya provinces. Exposure data comprised of meteorological data, heat exposure measured by Wet-Bulb Globe Temperature, and relative humidity. Heat index was calculated to measure the effects of heat exposure on the study population which consisted of 21 workers at 5 worksites; questionnaire was also used to collect data on workers.
Among the 5 workplaces, outdoor wet-bulb globe temperature is found to be highest at 34.58°C during 12.00–1.00 pm at agricultural site. It was found that 4 out of 5 study sites, had heat indices in the “extreme caution” where heat cramp and exhaustion may be possible and 1 site showed a value of 41°C which fall into the category of “danger,” where sunstroke and heat exhaustion are likely and prolong exposure may lead to heatstroke. Productivity as perceived by the workers revealed that only the construction and pottery industry workers assessed a loss of productivity as high as 60% reduction.
In conclusion, climate conditions in Thailand potentially affect both the health and productivity in occupational setting.