HÀ NỘI — Kindergartens and primary schools in Hà Nội will be closed if the air quality index (AQI) hits 300 and above, equivalent to hazardous levels, city authorities announced on Wednesday.
The Hà Nội People’s Committee on Wednesday issued Directive No 19 on dealing with air pollution and improving AQI, which focuses on tightening management over pollution agents and raising awareness over environmental protection and climate change.
The AQI level for shutting schools will be determined based on data collected by the Hà Nội Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
Running from 0 to 500, AQI indicates levels of air pollution and impacts on public health. Children, old people and those with respiratory diseases start experiencing health effects when the AQI hits 100.
Seven million children die of air pollution-related diseases per year while nine of 10 breathe air not healthy for humans worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.
Children’s health and cognitive development are damaged by exposure to poor environmental conditions, especially polluted air.
City authorities called for interdisciplinary co-ordination in coping with rising air pollution.
The Hà Nội Department of Environment Protection Department was asked to maintain the stable operation of air quality tracking systems and integrate its information with data collected from the stations of French and US embassies.
The Department of Health will have to implement mechanisms to prevent respiratory diseases once the AQI reaches unhealthy levels, including guiding people to protect themselves from filthy air.
Meanwhile, the Department of Construction is responsible for working with Urban Environment Company and its subsidiaries to control dust by vacuuming and watering streets whenever the AQI starts being reported at 'unhealthy for sensitive groups' levels at 101. All trucks weighing from 1.5 tonnes can only enter the city within Belt Road No 3 from 22.00 to 6.00 of the following day.
City police were asked to launch campaigns to fine vehicles loading construction materials and waste without suitable covers. At the same time, city authorities will encourage people to stop using honeycomb briquettes and burning crops, which both worsen air pollution in Hà Nội.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Health for the first time announced a list of 14 recommendations to deal with air pollution.
The announcement was made only a week after extreme air pollution hit Hà Nội with the AQI stuck at hazardous levels.
According to Lê Việt Phú, an economist from HCM City-based Fulbright University Việt Nam, air pollution cost the country 5 to 7 per cent of GDP in 2018, equivalent to US$11.4 to 15.9 billion, with approximately 40,000 deaths related to unhealthy air. — VNS