Dirty air responsible for 10 percent of deaths in Vietnam: research

By Ha Phuong   October 20, 2017 | 04:38 pm GMT+7

Probably not advisable to take a deep breath before reading this story of toxic smog.

Contaminated air was responsible for one in ten deaths in Vietnam, the fourth highest rate in Southeast Asia, after Laos, Cambodia and Philippines, according to a new research paper published on Friday in medical journal The Lancet.

The number of air pollution-related deaths in the country had jumped 60 percent percent from 26,300 in 1990 to 42,200 in 2015, the paper added.

Globally, pollution claimed the lives of nine million people in 2015, three times more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined, it said.

Air pollution, including outdoor pollution from factory and car emissions, and indoor pollution from burning wood, charcoal, coal or crop waste for heating and cooking, were by far the biggest contributor to deaths, it added. These forms of pollution were linked to 6.5 million fatalities in 2015.

Based on data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, around 90 percent of pollution-related deaths happened in rapidly-industrializing countries.

"People in poorer countries are more exposed to air pollution and less able to protect themselves from exposure, as they walk, bike or ride the bus to workplaces that may also be polluted," said co-author Karti Sandilya of Pure Earth, an anti-pollution NGO.

Exposure to high levels of air pollution can affect the human respiratory and inflammatory systems, and can lead to heart disease, strokes and lung cancer.

Last month, a study conducted by the University of Chicago revealed that air pollution cut a Vietnamese person’s life span by 1.16 years.