|Travellers wear comforters to avoid dust along the Cau Dien-Nhon Road in Ha Noi. Seventy per cent of air pollution in the city is created by streams of traffic. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hung
HA NOI (VNS) — Seventy per cent of air pollution in Ha Noi is created by the endless streams of traffic, the Centre for Environmental Monitoring has reported.
The content of PM10 (particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter) caused by traffic is four times higher than the alarm rate set by the World Health Organization (WHO), according to Jacques Moussafir, a French environmentalist.
Ha Noi pollution level was equivalent to that of Delhi and Karachi, two of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, Thoi bao Kinh doanh (Business Times) quoted Moussafir as saying.
Research conducted by the World Bank reveals that Ha Noi is among the most polluted cities in Asia.
"If no solutions are sought, the content of micro particles in Ha Noi will reach 200mg/ m³, 10 times higher than WHO's warning level," he said. This is two-and-a-half times the present rate.
Statistics from ARIA Technologies, a French company specilising in environmental research, shows that each year the number of vehicles in Ha Noii rises by 12-15 per cent. Vehicles discharge such toxic substances as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.
"Frequent and prolonged traffic congestion is another contributor to the increasing air pollution level," said Professor Le Huy Ba, head of the Institute for Science, Technology and Environment Management under HCM City University of Industry.
The emissions, which are released at low levels, are concentrated in densely-populated areas, he said.
Pollutants also come from industrial zones, craft villages, constructions sites, charcoal production and garbage from residential areas.
Up to 90 per cent of air samples checked in Ha Noi do not meet safety criteria and increase negative impacts on human health, Thoi Bao Kinh Doanh reported, referring to the World Bank's research.
Environment experts state that an increased use of public transport instead of personal vehicles would help solve the crisis. However, the limited number and low quality of buses in Ha Noi cannot meet present demands.
Hoang Duong Tung, deputy head of the Viet Nam Environment Administration, proposed setting up at least 10 more environment monitoring stations as a primary solution.
At present, only two stations have been set up in the city to monitor air quality.
The second important solution should be limiting charcoal burning for cooking and encouraging the use of solar energy, Tung said.
He added that it would also be necessary to move polluting industries out of the inner city and require them to install system to deal with emissions.
The municipal People's Committee plans to move polluting factories out of the city's urban and residential areas by 2015, but progress remains slow.
People with heart or lung diseases, older adults and children are most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure. However, even if you are healthy, you may feel temporary symptoms if you are exposed to high levels of particle pollution.
Numerous scientific studies connect particle pollution exposure to a variety of health issues, including: Particle pollution can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath, reduced lung function, irregular heartbeat, asthma and heart attacks - and premature death in people with heart or lung disease. — VNS