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Air quality control plan still largely up in the air

16 May 2014 | 02:54:43 PM

HCM City authorities have vowed to improve the air quality in the city to upgrade the living environment. However, the city does not have an automatic air quality monitoring system, an indispensable technology for air quality control.

Ho Chi Minh has been described by city dwellers as a noisy and polluted city. A report of the city’s environment department showed that 94 percent of samples taken showed substandard air quality. The proportion is higher, at 100 percent, in areas with high traffic intensity like An Suong.


Meanwhile, HCM City also lists itself among the noisiest cities in the world, with 100 percent of monitored samples not meeting the requirements.

There has been no official research work which can point out in detail the negative impacts of the substandard air on people’s health and the progression of people’s diseases after many years of exposure to the polluted air.

Scientists can only provide general information that dust, NO2, SO2, and ozone can cause respiratory diseases, while toluene and benzene cause cancer.

In 2013, the World Health Organization for the first time officially recognized that the air pollution situation in many countries in the world is the main factor behind an increase of human cancers. HCM City was named in the list of the 10 most air polluted cities in the world.

According to Nguyen Dinh Tuan, former President of the HCM City University of Natural Resources and the Environment, who has published many research works on air quality, there is a relationship between the percentages of children affected by respiratory diseases and the air conditions in their areas.

Tuan and his colleagues once conducted a research project on children, and found that those children living in more dusty areas face higher risks of respiratory disease.

When asked whether there exist different air quality levels in different areas, Tuan said the inner city area is polluted by the high intensity of transport vehicles, while the suburban areas, which once had good air quality, are becoming more and more polluted due to the production workshops relocated from the inner city.

Nevertheless, Tuan affirmed that no one can say for sure how high the city’s pollution is, because HCM City still lacks an automatic air quality monitoring system, which is essential for controlling the environmental quality in the city.

In fact, nine automatic air monitoring stations have been installed in the city so far. In addition, there are also some half-autonomic stations. However, the stations, which began degrading in 2009, are now nearly inoperative.

The monitoring data now heavily depends on the half-autonomic stations. But the stations can only produce random results –that is, they cannot provide reliable figures about the real air quality and cannot issue warnings.

“The first thing to be done is to install an automatic air quality monitoring system again. Only when we can monitor air quality 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, will we be able to know exactly the air quality situation,” Tuan said.

“We cannot do anything based just on surmise,” he concluded.

Source: VietNamNet Bridge

Views: 949

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