At this time of the year, tens of thousands of travelers come to Chiang Mai to see a great moment when the sky lanterns (Khom Loys) are launched into the sky. According to North Public News, a total of 27,278 Khom Loys were launched in 2017. The Loy Krathong festival brings about positive economic benefits and happiness. On the other hand, it causes air pollution, immeasurable damage to the environment and human health.
My name is Masahiro Araki from Chuo University in Tokyo. I was an exchange student at Chiang Mai University from August 2017 to May 2018 and researched about this at 3E laboratory, energy engineering.
At 3E laboratory, Chiang Mai University, we research environmental impacts by the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method. The LCA method can assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life cycle, starting from raw material extraction right through production of materials, assembly, transportation, using and disposal or recycling.
At this time, I assessed the environmental impact of the life cycle of Khom Loy by using DALY (disability-adjusted life year) index which indicates the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.
The result of the assessment for the use of 27,278 Khom Loys, showed 0.004 DALY which means a loss of 1.46 days of healthy life expectancy due to air pollution. Air pollution is caused by the combustion of a fuel cell which is made of kerosene and round sliced toilet paper.
Focusing on assessing all the stages of Khom Loys, we found 0.01547 DALY which means a loss of 5.64 days of healthy life expectancy. At first glance, it looks like quite a small number. However, assuming that people may live for 70 years and possibly suffer from the environmental impact by Khom Loy every year, we can calculate the number of years lost over a lifetime; as follows*
70 (years)*0.01547 DALY=1.0829 DALY (395 days)
This calculation shows that you may lose 395 days of healthy life expectancy, if you suffer from Khom Loys every year. In other words, you may have some sort of ill-health or disability for 395 days. Whether you agree with this assessment or not, one thing is clear; to have a positive impact on the environment for our future generations we must change attitudes and make responsible decisions on the actions we take, that can potentially harm our environment and our people.
Finally, I would like to thank Associate Professor Sate Sampattagul for acceptance, guidance and resources for this research project at Chiang Mai university. I would also like to thank my thesis adviser, Professor Manoj Potapohn for advising and correcting my thesis. I would like to thank Dr. Ekkaporn and Titaporn for their direction and wealth of knowledge in the field of life cycle assessment. And finally, thank you to my friends and family for their support and encouragement.