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Stubble burning lowers visibility

Update: June, 20/2012 - 10:17

HA NOI — The burning of stubble has left a pall of black smoke over western parts of Ha Noi, particularly in the districts of Quoc Oai and Thach That, raising health concerns and disrupting visibility on roads.

Vu Van Hau, director of the city's Natural Resources and Environment Department, said farmers in Quoc Oai and Thach That districts had been burning stubble for the last few days after harvesting their rice crops. South-easterly winds had made matters worse, Hau said.

Nguyen Thi Binh, a resident of Tu Liem District, said she had been forced to keep all doors and windows shut to prevent smoke from entering her house. She and her children had also been forced to wear face masks and sunglasses to protect their eyes and lungs.

Binh said she was particularly concerned about one of her children who is asthmatic.

Dr Dao Bich Van, from the National Hospital of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases, said inhaling smoke would aggravate respiratory diseases and lead to increased incidents of flu and rhinitis.

She said people should turn on fans and air-conditioners to circulate the air in their homes.

Meanwhile, poor visibility is being blamed for a number of accidents on highways 32, 21B and the Lang - Hoa Lac road.

Le Chung, from Dong Da District, said her car was nearly hit by a truck on Highway 32 last Saturday because of the smoke from stubble burning.

Director Hau said his department at this time of year always asked district-level authorities to monitor the situation but to little avail.

Nguyen Van Sinh, chairman of Thach That District's Binh Yen Agricultural Co-operative, said rural households no longer burnt straw for cooking but used gas or electricity instead. However, he said they had to burn straw to produce fertiliser for their agricultural land.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said it was looking into ways of minimising the harmful environmental effects of burning stubble. — VNS

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