High Level of Pollution Raises Concerns in Hanoi

China has been many times exposed in international media for deteriorating environment’s conditions. But it seems that now concerns are mounting over Vietnam. The rapid development of the country’s industry combined to lax behaviour regarding the enforcement of environment laws takes now its toll. According to the Vietnamese newspaper Than Nien News reported of alarming levels of pollution in Hanoi, the country’s capital.

The problem is well known and for a long time. Already in 2012, a French expert from ARIA Technologies, a company specialized in computation of pollutant dispersion, named Hanoi as Southeast Asia most polluted city. Vietnam National Environment Report in 2013 showed that air quality in Hanoi was poor most days of the year. To be blame is not only industries around the capital but also the increased traffic in the streets of the capital. According to Hanoi Municipal Committee, 18,000 to 20,000 new motorbikes and 6,000-8,000 new cars are registered in the city every month. By 2020, Hanoi could have a total of one million cars and 7 million motorbikes if nothing is done to curb the trend.

Since March, the level of pollution -particles in the atmosphere as well as CO2- has reached dangerous levels for health. The real-time Air Quality Index of aqicn.org ranked the pollution in Hanoi as “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy,” which means outdoor exertion should be limited for everyone. During peak pollution times, the index exceeds 350 deemed as hazardous for the health. Aqicn.org uses data collected from Vietnam Center for Environment Monitoring from the environment ministry, the United Nations International School of Hanoi and the US Embassy in Hanoi.

On April 27 in the morning, Hanoi was reaching again a pollution index of 123, deemed as “unhealthy”. By comparison, Ho Chi Minh City pollution index stood “only” at 68 (deemed as “moderate”) while Bangkok had a pollution index of 51 (also deemed as “moderate”). [See Table with the special pollution index on April 27 in various ASEAN cities under http://asean.travel/2016/04/27/pollution-index-…il-27-2016-10-am/ ‎]

Recent rumours of mercury in the air of Hanoi – found in a measurement in one of the city’s streets- caused further concerns among the local population. However, scientists consulted indicated that it could have potentially been generated from nearby gas station at time of measuring.

Vietnam is getting more often into news in the region regarding high level of pollution and this could be a deterrent factor for visitors. This week, a scandal about a secret sewage pipe from a steel company made headlines as masses of dead fishes were found along the coast of Centra Vietnam. The company seemed to have discharged toxic chemicals in the sea without being authorized by local authorities.

(Partial source: Than Nien News)