Vietnam to make public air quality information in major cities next year

By Toan Dao   June 7, 2016 | 08:14 am GMT+7

Vietnam plans to publicize information about air quality in 19 cities across the country in 2017.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung has asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Ministry of Information and Communications to launch the mission in 2017, according to the National Action Plan for Air Quality Management until 2020 with a vision to 2030 released earlier this month.

If the scheme is implemented as planned, people in 19 cities across the country will know the quality of the air that they breathe every day. These cities include: two special cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; three cities directly managed by the central government, the northern city of Hai Phong, central city of Da Nang and southern city of Can Tho; and 14 other grade-I cities which are managed by different provinces, comprising the favorite destinations for tourists like the central cities of Hue, Da Lat, Nha Trang and the northern city of Ha Long.

Photo by VnExpress/Le Hieu

Photo by VnExpress/Le Hieu

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is also asked to increase the number of the automatic air monitoring stations installed in the 19 cities by 2020.

From next year, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Information and Communications, in collaboration with various provincial and municipal governments, will carry out campaigns to make the public aware of the negative effects of air pollution.

An air quality reading in March this year by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi showed a "hazardous" air quality index at one point during the day, raising concerns among local residents.

The embassy had earlier installed an air quality monitor to measure the PM2.5 particulates as an indication of the air quality at its building in Lang Ha Street, Ba Dinh District.

PM, or Particulate Matter, is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. PM2.5 particulates are fine particles with diameters that are 2.5 micrometers or less.

PM2.5 readings are converted into an Air Quality Index (AQI) value, which shows the level of pollution in the monitored air on a scale from 0 to 500, with 500 being the most polluted.

Between March 1 and 4, the AQI measurements by the Hanoi-based U.S. Embassy recorded alarming levels of air pollution in the capital.

Pollutant concentrations in the air ranged between 114 and 159 during the day and suddenly peaked at 388 at 9 a.m. on March 1 - a level deemed hazardous and which can cause serious health problems.

The PM2.5 particulate level recorded was seven times higher than the permissible level set by the World Health Organization.

PM2.5, also described as super fine particles, is the most harmful air pollutant to human health and can cause serious respiratory problems.

According to the AQI Levels of Health Concern, the air quality recorded in Hanoi can have adverse affects on people with lung and heart diseases, the elderly and children.