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Stench from lakes, landfills, road dust threatens health of residents

Update: October, 13/2016 - 09:00
Đa Phước landfill in HCM City causes stench, threatening health of local residents. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Doctors have warned residents living or working in high air pollution areas of HCM City and Hà Nội about the serious health risks coming from the stench emitted from polluted lakes, landfills and by road dust.

The Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic of the HCM City University Medical Hospital has recently received numerous people for respiratory diseases. A clinic doctor said that all declared they were living or regularly working in areas with high air pollution.

Nguyễn C.T., a 43-year-old woman living in District 2, said one week ago she started having headaches, sniffing and developed phlegm in her throat. At the clinic, she was diagnosed with congestive mucosa in the nasal cavity and treated with drugs. The doctor warned her to avoid dust and smog, otherwise her disease could occur again periodically.

The women said her house was located on a road where many lorries passed by around the clock, so she couldn’t avoid being in contact with dust, smog and noise regularly. As of last month, the road has been under construction, so the dust pollution has become even worse.

An elderly woman in Bình Chánh District’s Đa Phước Commune said she took medicine frequently because the bad smells from a nearby landfill gave her headaches.

Her house is located 150m from the landfill, so the four-member family has had to suffer the bad smell for a long time. “Not only during the day, we must also wear masks in bed,” she said.

Residents surrounding West Lake in Hà Nội were recently stressed by the stench of a mass fish death. Passers-by and people living near the area had to wear masks to help deal with the fishy smell.

Nguyễn Huy Thao, a resident of Trích Sài Street, said the mass fish die-off left the lake’s surface covered with a layer of floating dead fish, causing a strong fishy stench.

“Bad smells surely affect the health of residents here. My four-year-old daughter must be treated for respiratory disease at hospital,” Thao said.

Ear, nose and throat specialists said people affected by the bad smells of landfills suffered from lack of sleep, stress and a number of other diseases.

Dr Phan Quốc Bảo said people inhaling the stink commonly first experienced symptoms of dizziness. Worse than the bad smell, people were exposed to viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms and pathogens that were diffused into the air, causing diseases.

Possible bacterial infections and forms of poisoning depended on the source of the odour. The doctor said the biggest impact of the odours was probably a negative psychological influence.

According to Associate Professor Nguyễn Duy Thịnh, organic substances in the process of decomposing create toxic gases that stink and could potentially cause an adverse effect on residents’ health.

People inhaling toxic gases can be poisoned, with common symptoms being dizziness, headaches, nausea and shortness of breath. The foul smells are also having adverse impacts on people’s nervous and respiratory systems.

The ability of many people to smell has been paralysed, with them no longer being able to detect the stench they are living with. This is very serious, as some disease-suffering people don’t know they are becoming sick from the fumes they breath.

Prof. Dr Phạm Kiên Hữu, head of the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at the HCM City University Medical Hospital, said people living near or in contact with pollutants would be affected directly via their lungs.

Air pollution can cause immediate conditions like respiratory, skin or eye diseases, and have long-term effects such as lung cancer, heart disease, and damage to the nervous system and internal organs.

The elderly and those suffering from asthma, heart disease and lung disease were worst affected by air pollution, doctor Hữu said. The level of damage depended on the duration and concentration of pollutants people came into contact with.

He suggested some measures to limit the harm of air pollution included wearing an activated charcoal mask, large glasses to avoid dust, restricting the time spent on roads during peak times, washing and changing clothing as soon as arriving home, and using nose- and eye-cleaning solutions.

People living in high air pollution areas should limit the opening of windows and doors, clean the house regularly, and don’t smoke or start motorbike engines inside house. Kitchens needed to have suitable ventilation in place. — VNS

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