PM Phuc wants Hanoi, HCMC to do more to tackle air pollution

By Hoang Thuy, Hoai Thu, Viet Tuan   October 3, 2019 | 11:42 am GMT+7
PM Phuc wants Hanoi, HCMC to do more to tackle air pollution
High-rise buildings are seen shrouded in haze as the air quality continues to be "unhealthy" in Hanoi, October 2, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Kham.

The government has called on Hanoi and HCMC to have a clear and radical strategy to combat air pollution and to keep it notified.

At a regular government meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told authorities in the two cities and at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment: "[We] must not let the public complain without proposing an effective solution."

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Le Cong Thanh said the two cities plan to install more air quality monitoring stations so that they could issue timely pollution warnings.

A comprehensive national plan of action for improving air quality is being implemented, including building policies and adopting specific measures to reduce the sources of superfine particles.

"The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and localities will substantially implement this plan to improve the air quality in Hanoi and HCMC."

Thanh dismissed popular foreign air quality monitoring websites such as AirVisual, saying since they collect data from stations that might not be standardized their data should only be used for reference.

He said the Vietnamese public should instead look up official data from the Hanoi website (moitruongthudo.vn) or the website of the Vietnam Environment Administration (enviinfo.cem.gov.vn).

"Air quality varies depending on time and location. If monitoring equipment is installed near sources of garbage and superfine particles then the readings will be high, but this will not be a general representation of the entire city."

According to Hanoi Vice Chairman Nguyen The Hung, for the past several years the city has been experiencing pollution during the periods between seasons.

"City authorities have determined that the monitoring of air quality must be done regularly, daily. The city's 11 monitoring stations send data to the center every five minutes, and it is made public."

Hanoi is planning to increase the number of monitoring stations to 25 by next year and simultaneously tackle the sources of pollution such as building more wastewater treatment facilities, ordering construction sites to be covered, controlling the number of private vehicles, and ending the practice of burning straw in paddy fields after harvest.

A recent report from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment had said between September 12 and 30 PM2.5 -- described as superfine particles measuring 3 percent the size of a human hair -- levels in Hanoi were consistently above 50 μg/m3, which is the safe level according to Vietnamese standards.

In HCMC, data recorded by the environment department found a sharp spike in the concentration of superfine particles, NO2, SO2, and CO from September 18 to 20.

The levels of superfine particles, NO2 and CO had increased by 2.19 times, 1.41 times and 1.4 times during the period.

 
 
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