Too Hot to Handle: Thai Jail Sued over Roast Chili Fumes

If you can't stand the heat, stay away from the prison.

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NOAH SEELAM / AFP / Getty Images

A farmer handles her stock of dry chilies.

A Thai prison is facing legal action because of air pollution allegedly caused by chilies roasting in the institution’s kitchen.

Prasert Yusupap, the director of Bangkok’s Khlong Prem Central Prison, was slapped with a lawsuit on Monday from the Stop Global Warming Association Thailand (THAISGWA) after local complaints regarding billowing, eye-watering fumes emanating from the jail.

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THAISGWA President Srisuwan Janya claims that residents in the Prachanives 1 village in the Thai capital’s Chatuchak District are suffering from breathing problems and allergic reactions because of the smoke, according to local news site Coconuts Bangkok. He added that those affected had already approached the prison authorities directly but no action was taken to remedy the problem.

The legal action accuses Prasert and Chatuchak District Office of delinquency under the 1992 Public Health Act, reports the Bangkok Post. The court has also been asked to order the agencies to pay 15 per cent annual interest on damages.

Thai Corrections Department Director-General Suchart Wongananchai admitted that his department had received numerous complaints from nearby residents and that the prison authorities had been instructed to install chimney extractor hoods.

Despite their prevalence in pungent Thai cuisine, chillies are native to the Americas and were only brought to Asia by Europeans in the 14th century. Roasting chilies is a common practice in Thailand to intensify their heat and impart a smoky flavor.

Despite occasionally being a health hazard, chilies are best known for their medicinal properties. Chilies are loaded with vitamin A and their mucus-thinning attributes can promote coughing and act as an expectorant for asthmatic conditions. Nutritionists claim they also boost the immune system, lower cholesterol and aid circulation by thinning the blood.

However, chilies must be treated with respect — there are numerous reports of heart attacks and hospitalizations from overloading on the fiery fruit. In addition, exposure even to relatively small quantities of pure capsaicin can lead to permanent blindness or death, reports the Guardian.

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