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Air pollution has continued to increase over recent decades, particularly in Vietnam. The World Health Organization’s cancer agency said, the air we breathe is laced with cancer-causing substances and is being officially classified as carcinogenic to humans. Significantly, global air pollution in general and air pollution in Vietnam particular are increasingly serious. Vietnamese is listed amongst the top ten countries with the most terrible air pollution
Smog that has appeared regularly in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, with the current recent recorded on Wednesday (3rd January 2017), shows that local air pollution is now at an alarming level (Xinhua). The warning was made by Ho Quoc Bang, head of the air pollution and climate change division at the Institute for Environment and Natural Resources under the Vietnam National University. Traffic, construction, and industrial activities are the main causes of air pollution in cities. Traffic activities release nearly 85 percent of the total carbon monoxide emissions and many other dangerous substances. Air pollution at construction sites is higher than the standard. These activities also produce worse air pollution. He said “air pollution ranks fourth among the causes of premature death in the world”.
People’s health is already being affected. About 1.5 million people in Vietnam undergo from chronic obstructive lung disease every years because of pollution. It killed 40,000 people in 2013, including 3,000 in Ho Chi Minh City (Dr. Le Viet Phu). This makes air pollution four times more deadly than traffic accidents. Dr. Nguyen Thanh Vu, a lecturer at the School of Medicine at the Vietnam National University-HCMC, recently warned Vietnamese officials about the effects of air pollution on children in particular. He say that “the World Health Organization statistic that two million children die globally due to acute respiratory infections every year, and 60% of these deaths are caused by polluted air”. The situations are also affecting the country’s economic. Dr. Phu estimated that air pollution causes damages as high as US$10 billion. This number takes into account lost work productivity, the value of life and the willingness to pay for decrease air pollution.
Many solutions have been proposed to address the problem. Bang, from the environment institute, said that “Saigon needs to control motorbike exhaust emissions, upgrade old buses to cleaner poser, cap emission level for factories and outright ban construction in some areas”. Dr. Phu echos the need for more rigorously enforced and stricter standards, as well as an early warning arrangement to alert residents about especially dangerous times to be outside. If some districts have pollution indicator exceeding the permit levels, the government agency will stop the ontogeny of factories in the localities and apply the answer to restrict travel in the areas. Vietnam’s current air quality standards is a big gap of 2.5-5 times compared the international standards set by WHO.
Meanwhile, factories need to be controlled “emission quotas”, i.e during one calendar or one quarter. Bang said that “it is necessary to apply measures to gradually reduce the number of vehicles using fossil fuel and encourage the use of public transport, biofuel-run vehicles and solar energy”. Hong, an organization for health and global environment, believes that the air quality in Vietnam need to be better controlled to come closer to global environment indexes.
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