Hanoi strives to improve environment quality
Deputy Director of Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Mai Trọng Thái, talks to Hanoi newspaper about the capital city’s environmental protection efforts.
Environment is a top concern of urban areas, including Hanoi. Could you briefly explain the current situation of the capital city’s environment?
Through the sector’s review and assessment, you can see that the main source of environmental pollution in Hanoi is water surface pollution of rivers, lakes and channels. Air pollution and pollution caused by untreated solid waste and household waste. The city is estimated to release around 900,000cu.m of waste water each day while the capacity of wastewater treatment facilities in the city has reached only 276,000cu.m, dealing with just 28.8 per cent of the waste water. The remaining wastewater has been discharged into rivers, lakes and channels, leading to environmental pollution, particularly rivers in the inner city such as Tô Lịch, Kim Ngư, Lừ, Sét and Nhuệ rivers.
Also, air pollution remains high, particularly in winter. According to the department’s figures, the air quality in the inner city in late 2020 and early 2021 was very bad, affecting local residents’ health. Pollution was mainly caused by PM10 and PM2.5 fine dust.
What has the city done to deal with these sources of environmental pollution?
The city has issued many documents on strengthening solutions to improve the quality of the environment focusing on defining and dealing with hot spots of environmental pollution, controlling sources of waste discharge, increasing inspections, and punishing environmental protection violators.
From 2017 to present, local environment management agencies fined 6,025 facilities for violating environmental protection regulations with total fines of over VNĐ63 billion (US$2.74 million). Meanwhile, inspectors from the municipal Department of Construction punished more than 53,000 construction projects for causing environmental pollution with a total administrative fine of nearly VNĐ100 billion (US$4.3 million).
The municipal People’s Committee has assigned relevant agencies to increase inspections and management over sanitation and environmental protection work along rivers and regularly operate wastewater treatment facilities to ensure waste water quality meets appropriate standards before being released into the environment.
These efforts have brought positive results: the collection rate of household and medical waste has reached 99 per cent and has basically brought pollution of water resources in the inner city under control. We also have 35 automatic air observation stations operating and have stamped out over 96 per cent of the use of honeycomb charcoal stoves.
What will Hanoi do in the future to handle these shortcomings and improve the quality of the environment?
Hanoi will continue building its State management apparatus to manage the environment to fall in line with current regulations.
The city will focus on making a plan to protect the environment until 2030 with a vision towards 2050, incorporating socio-economic development planning. It will also implement a plan to collect and treat hazardous waste until 2025 with a vision to 2030.
Local authorities will increase inspection and supervision to prevent environment protection violations, particularly at traditional craft villages and industrial zones and strictly punish violators.
Hanoi will also apply new technology in treating water surface pollution at lakes and rivers and develop a network of wastewater treatment facilities.
The city aims to complete the adjustment of the solid waste treatment plan with the goal of collecting and treating 100 per cent of household waste.
A waste-to-power plant in outlying Sóc Sơn District is expected to be put into operation this year with a capacity of 4,000 tonnes per day and a waste treatment plan at the Xuân Sơn landfill area in Ba Vì is scheduled for completion by 2020 with a capacity of 1,500 tonnes per day.
The city will increase the application of information technology in environment management and increase information dissemination to raise public awareness of environment protection. — Source
Reclaiming our future from the plastic waste crisis
Last March, Dr. Deo Florence Onda made history as the first Filipino to reach Emden Deep, the third deepest part of the Earth. At 34,100 feet below sea level, the Filipino scientist was shocked to find plastic in one piece. It seems that man-made plastics have reached the world’s most remote areas well before humans.
The Philippines is in a plastic pollution crisis. Every day, 164 million sachets and 57 million plastic bags are used throughout the Philippines based on a study conducted by the Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in 2019. With the erratic quarantine measures and restrictions implemented to curb COVID-19 infection rates, our reliance on e-commerce, food deliveries, and personal protective equipment (PPEs) has dramatically increased.
Many of us, young Filipinos, were weaned to the throwaway culture and the incessant need to consume “tingi” from tiny, flexible, and multi-packaged sachets that will take at least several centuries to disintegrate. However, decades ago, things were different. Instead of going to purchasing products in smaller packages, Filipinos would bring their own reusable or refillable containers and purchase a cup of flour, sugar, or other products at just the right amount matching how much they need.
This practice, however, was “hijacked” by bigger companies, introducing sachets to cater to a massive market of low to middle-income consumers. Now, most of us think that sachets are essential, when in fact they have only existed in a few decade.
What’s SUP? Youth’s role in the plastic crisis
Be that as it may, the plastic pollution crisis is a complex problem that requires complex solutions. It is an issue that does not recognize class, politics, and boundaries.
From national to local governments, civil society organizations, businesses, and most especially the youth—everyone has an important role to play in addressing the problem.
Together with Greenpeace Philippines, The Climate Reality Project Philippines Youth Cluster launched What’s SUP, an anti-single-use plastic campaign that aims to empower the youth to act on the plastic crisis.
The first phase of What’s SUP is an online information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign in the form of a month-long calendar of bite-sized challenges. It was launched with the screening of Ang Huling Plastic, followed by rich discussions and social media posts with insights of the participants. All the information on the plastic crisis could get overwhelming so these easily digestible challenges were curated by the What’s SUP team to help Climate Reality Leaders and the public learn more about it, take action, and push for systemic change.
Building on the success of phase one, the What’s SUP team took the opportunity to create a more ambitious and multi-stakeholder second phase that involves collaboration with schools and universities, businesses, legislators, and the public. We plan to roll out The Plastic-Free Agenda integrated into the school curriculum in partnership with the Department of Education. The goal is to mount a more aggressive IEC campaign for the general public, work with micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) on cutting back their plastic consumption, and form a coalition that collaborates on phasing out single-use plastics through various means, including pushing for the passage of an environmentally sound single-use plastics regulation act.
While phase two is still in the works, youth Climate Reality Leaders participated in the Break Free From Plastic brand audit campaign for the International Coastal Clean-Up Day. The audit revealed most of the single-use plastic waste comes from companies like Procter and Gamble, Universal Robina, Coca Cola, Jollibee, Nestle, Monde Nissin, Shopee, and more.
These youth initiatives were made possible through the collaboration of passionate climate justice advocates and the support of Climate Reality Philippines and other organizations.
Educate, vote, and go beyond social media
The What’s SUP campaign has shown the limitless potential of the youth. With the youth’s creativity, innovation, and energy, we can make meaningful change. The challenge, therefore, is to work collaboratively and go beyond the campaigns on social media and educate younger Filipinos on zero-waste practices.
Furthermore, we must dictate our sustainable future by voting leaders who understand that economic development and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive. The youth, in its sheer number and diversity, is a strong agent for change.
We must work together in embracing our potential to be the catalyst that is needed to reclaim our sustainable future.
Author: Ari Tanglao
Ha Noi plans to build more public and green spaces
Public green spaces have never been more important in Hà Nội, a densely populated city facing challenges from rapid urbanisation, climate change and air pollution.
The capital is in the midst of a prolonged heatwave so flower gardens and parks in the city have been popular spots recently.
Nguyễn Văn Miện, a man living on Hàng Bè Street of Hoàn Kiếm District, said: “On hot days, flower gardens and parks are ideal places for people, especially those living in the narrow houses on Old Quarter streets like me.”
Miện goes to Chí Linh Garden nearby Hoàn Kiếm Lake, where there are many old trees, to exercise and walk every day.
“If there were no public flower gardens like this to relax and do daily exercise, it would be very frustrating and uncomfortable,” he told Kinh Tế & Đô Thị (Economy and City) newspaper.
Public and green spaces are indispensable for a city to meet people’s needs, but the reality is that public and green spaces are rare and their quality is low in central Hà Nội.
According to statistics of Livable Cities Project of Canada’s HealthBridge Foundation in Việt Nam, Hà Nội needs more flower gardens and playgrounds in residential areas, especially in the inner city, where the land used for public and green spaces accounts for less than 2 per cent of the total land fund.
For example, in Hoàn Kiếm District, there are only 13 flower gardens, equal to a rate of 0.1 sq.m per person on average.
In the Old Quarter, the rate is even lower. Cửa Đông Ward is home to nearly 70,000 people but only one flower garden while much space is used for car parking.
The city has targeted an average of public and green space of 3.02 sq.m per person for the central districts by 2030.
According to Dr Phạm Quỳnh Phương, an expert from the Institute of Cultural Studies, Hà Nội has paid some attention to the development of public and green space such as growing more trees, building more parks and gardens and opening walking streets but the spaces have not yet met the needs of the people.
In addition, many public spaces are being commercialised and privatised. The sidewalks are occupied by business households while many public places are used for parking lots or the expansion of transport infrastructure.
Overall harmonious landscape
The Hà Nội Party Committee has issued a programme for 2021 – 2025 aiming to renovate and upgrade 45 existing parks and flower gardens, build five new parks and flower gardens and upgrade 180 streets and sidewalks in 12 districts.
Some districts have started work on hitting those targets.
For example, Hoàn Kiếm District People’s Committee has worked with the PRX Institute – Representative of the Ile-de-France region of France in Việt Nam and France’s DE-SO agency to build a project for public space planning and an eco-friendly green space management experiment.
Phạm Tuấn Long, chairman of Hoàn Kiếm District People’s Committee, said because there was no land in the district available for new developments, the research plan proposed by the consulting unit – DE-SO – was to develop green spaces combined with the expansion of walking spaces to honour valuable architectural works.
The project aims to renovate the landscape and develop trade and tourism in the district including the statue of King Lý Thái Tổ with the State Bank Square, Diên Hồng Flower Garden with the Government guesthouse, and Opera House Square and Tràng Tiền and Hàng Khay streets and Hoàn Kiếm Lake, Long said.
The renovation would be based on the principle of restoring pedestrian spaces in the area while expanding green spaces, the chairman said.
Also, the project would provide Hà Nội with design tools for public spaces specific to the capital, particularly the old French streets.
French experts also proposed upgrading the streets of Hàng Khay and Tràng Tiền to improve the architectural value of the street and preserve the French architectural works.
They have also suggested developing the inside of stores to create a busy commercial axis and a promenade connecting with the walking space of Hoàn Kiếm Lake and the Opera House, he said.
Chairman of the Việt Nam Urban Development Planning Association, architect Trần Ngọc Chính, said that over the years, Hà Nội and Hoàn Kiếm District have implemented many projects to develop services, commerce and tourism in the Old Quarter, such as the implementation of the pedestrian route.
Scientists urge more action for climate resiliency in the Philippines
MANILA, Philippines — Environmental scientists and advocates are calling for the government and the private sector to implement more aggressive climate resiliency interventions in the country to alleviate the economic impacts of climate change.
The Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) last Tuesday conducted an online forum titled “Best Practices for a Proactive Approach to Climate Resiliency” where stakeholders virtually gathered to share and discuss the best practices to achieve a resilient community against climate impacts.
The forum was held in celebration of World Environment Day last June 5 and the National Disaster Resilience Month in July.
“Climate crisis is still, unfortunately, not a top-of-mind issue for many economies, including ours,” Carlos Primo David, ADRi Program Convenor and Trustee, and Convenor of the Philippine Business for Environmental Stewardship, said during the event.
“Our window to address climate change is 30 years or roughly one generation. Not acting on climate change during this period may prove to be devastating for the planet,” he added.
David said that since the current generation is starting to occupy the leadership roles of society, “it is up to us then to recognize this threat and seriously address the climate crisis.
Meanwhile, Nazrin Camille Castro, branch manager of Climate Reality Project Philippines, noted that the impacts of climate change “are already here and fast increasing.”
She said that government and business operations should have systems in place to respond and adapt to business continuity challenges that could be caused by climate-related disasters.
For his part, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation president Rene Meily emphasized that local government units (LGUs) along with non-government organizations, the health sector, and international agencies should collaborate to address the situation.
“If we can all work together, in government, civil society, LGUs, the health sector, and the different NGOs and different international agencies, we can all work together to start to make this a more pleasant place to live in, a safer place to live in, by helping mitigate the effects of climate change to pollution and so on, it will help make a better world, not so much for ourselves but for our children,” he said.
Stratbase ADRi President Prof. Dindo Manhit also said that communities “will constantly remain vulnerable to shocks if immediate mitigation and adaptation of sustainable and best practices are not widely implemented.”
Executive Director of Project NOAH Dr. Mahar Lagmay, meanwhile, stressed that it is essential for early warning systems to be both data-driven and people-centered to save more lives and livelihoods.
“It is about capitalizing on all the expertise and all of the efforts, the willingness, the volunteerism, the efforts of everybody,” he said. “If we do that, we build a people-centered early warning system that ensures our survival.”
Glenn Banaguas, president of the Environmental and Climate Change Research Institute, agreed with this point.
“If you really want to attain resiliency and sustainability, we have to have a change in focus from climate-centered to decision-centered, focusing on people, communities, and outcomes,” he said.
Air Quality Test and Equipment
Indoor Quality Test using Aeroqual Series 500
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ESS can perform Air Quality Test services with equipment that can measure specific pollutants and gases, and we also can provide the equipments to our clients. one of the equipment that we use and provide for Air Quality Indoor/outdoor test is Aeroqual Series 500.
The Aeroqual Series 500 air quality sensor enables accurate real-time surveying of common indoor/outdoor air pollutants, all in an ultra-portable handheld monitor. Series 500 portable air quality sensor takes advantage of the unique sensor head format. Sensors are housed within an interchangeable cartridge (“head”) that attaches to the monitor base. The head can be removed and replaced in seconds, allowing users to measure as many gases and particulate matter (ex: PM10, PM 2.5, VOC, CO2, CH2O, and many more).
ESS has conducted many tests using Aeroqual Series 500 and proved to be accurate and have satisfactory results. In addition to conducting air quality tests, we also provide solutions and recommendations to improve your Air Quality that leads to a better quality of life.
ESS provides rapid response to meet your needs. Call us to find out how we can help.
They Trusted Us
Survey reveals Southeast Asians’ concerns about lack of regional climate change action
BANGKOK: A new survey on Southeast Asians’ attitudes and perceptions of climate change reveals genuine concerns among respondents about the crisis but pessimism around whether regional governments are doing enough to tackle it.
The survey, which was conducted online by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS), probed 610 people from all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states in a range of different sectors, including academia, business, government, media, students and international organizations. This is the second year that ISEAS has conducted the survey.
Seventy per cent of those surveyed said they believe climate change is a serious and immediate threat to the well-being of their country.
But only 15.7 per cent believes that their government considers climate change an urgent national priority and has allocated sufficient resources to address this threat.
Less than a quarter of respondents think that their country’s climate policies and laws are aligned with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as agreed under the Paris Agreement, while only 31.8 per cent agreed that ASEAN is effective as a regional organisation in tackling climate change.
There is some optimism, however, around the ability of climate change investments to provide a boost to economic competitiveness, especially from those surveyed in Vietnam, which has made large inroads on its renewable energy rollout plans in recent years.
Yet only just over 15 per cent overall thought that their government had seized on the chance to use COVID-19 stimulus money to contribute to a green recovery.
“The results show that Southeast Asians believe that more should be done to address climate change issues, with a majority viewing climate change to be as much of a crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic,” Choi Shing Kwok, the director and CEO of ISEAS, said in a statement.
He added: “Survey respondents also believe that better and more innovative climate change policies can result in higher economic competitiveness. This will translate into strong support for governments and private companies pursuing climate change initiatives in the region.”
Recent separate analysis from ISEAS showed that regional governments were missing the opportunity to weave green components into their recoveries, while keeping many harmful subsidies to high polluting industries.
“They need to wean off fossil fuel subsidies but that seems to be the easiest stimulus dollar to give at this time when livelihoods are threatened, jobs are lost, economic activity is down. Choosing a green recovery will mean short-term pain but long-term sustainability,” ISEAS senior fellow Sharon Seah told CNA.
“Deep decarbonisation, economic transformation does not happen overnight. Political will is needed,” she said.
According to the survey, those from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam felt that the main government priority should be to encourage businesses to adopt green practices.
Singapore-based respondents thought the main government priorities should be to allocate more public financial support to low-carbon solutions as well as to encourage businesses to adopt green practices.
In Myanmar, there was an overwhelming call for the enactment of climate laws.
Throughout the region, the looming threats of worsening disasters are a concern, the survey shows.
The latest assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes it clear that unless excessive global warming is reined in by mid-century, Southeast Asia will experience a range of worsening conditions and disasters, including dangerous heat waves, intense rain events, powerful tropical cyclones and coastal cities inundated by rising sea levels.
In Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia and Brunei, respondents said flooding was the most serious climate change impact for their country.
Research shows there is merit to such concern, with the region’s cities among the most vulnerable in the world and projections that once in a 100 year flood events could be happening every year by 2100.
Singaporeans were most worried about sea level rise, which regionally is being experienced faster than the global average and will continue around Asia over the coming decades.
Meanwhile, Thais thought drought was the biggest climate change impact faced and Cambodians selected biodiversity loss.
Only 21 per cent believe that their country has a policy and plan to protect agriculture against climate change, even though the overall majority thought that their country’s food supply was threatened by climate change.
N-95 Respirators mask
What Makes N95 Respirators Different From Facemasks ?
Environmental Source Samplers, Inc. (ESS) has been inundated with requests for information on the most effective – and least – N95 Respirators to purchase to protect oneself from the high levels of PM2.5 in the Southeast Asia environment. Therefore, before we make our recommendation, please understand some of the facts about PM2.5 (and other PM fines).
PM2.5 (and other PM fines) Background
PM2.5 (and lately, there is more discussion about PM1) are dust or aerosol particles that have a spherical diameter of less than 2.5 microns (or, for PM1, less than 1 micron). To give you an order of magnitude, approximately thirty (30) PM2.5 particles placed next to one another are the equivalent diameter of a human hair.
Due to the small size, PM2.5 passes easily through our nose and nose hair, our eyes and tear layer, through our nose and lung membranes and act as a conduit straight into the human blood pathway.1 PM2.5 is a complex particle – it is a vehicle that carries other chemicals and pollutants. PM2.5 may carry metals emitted from mobile and point source fuel combustion; dioxins from improper burning of trash and incinerator operation; chemicals from the burning of agricultural waste in the fields; and countless other targets.
Further, relative to the human body, PM2.5 is approximately twenty (20) times smaller than our skin pores (typical skin pores are approximately 45 microns). Therefore, our skin (which is the largest human organ) is bombarded with PM2.5 continuously.
Effects of PM2.5 on the Human Population
ESS doesn’t mean to alarm the readers of this web site, but we do want to make sure that the complexity and factors involved with how best to protect oneself are considered.
The health effects of exposure to PM2.5 are well-documented and include:
- Respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity (such as aggravation of asthma, respiratory symptoms and an increase in hospital admissions)2
- Mortality from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and from lung cancer2
- Increase levels of free radicals (contributing to wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots)3
Degradation of collagen, inflammatory skin diseases and skin aging3
ESS Recommendation for Protecting Oneself from the Effects of PM2.5 in SE Asia
We are pleased to roll-out our recommendation to fully protect the population from the elevated levels of PM2.5 (and associated targets) within the Southeast Asia region.
Please note: This imagery and recommendation is meant to be in jest. However, the point to be made is that your safety equipment should be based on the hazard and your desired level of protection.
According to the WHO, “There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure or a threshold below which no adverse health effects occur”2. So, it is up to you to establish your specific protectionary needs.
Getting Back to our Multiple Inquiries About Appropriate N95 Respirators
The most important function of a N95 Respirator is to ensure that it is, in fact, filtering the inhaled air.
- They will not work with those persons that have facial hair
- They work best if they have thermoplastic elastomer seals around the mask to face contact zone
- As the filtering media plugs with PM, moisture or other contaminants – they become less effective
- During impact exercises, the fitting between the face and mask is often impaired
- If the fit of the mask is not perfect, the ambient air will pass through the easiest path – which is not through the filter media
- The rating of the mask is based on a laboratory experiment in “perfect” conditions
Fit-testing is the only way to ensure that you are utilizing a mask that is providing real function and protection.
How Can We Help?
ESS is pleased to offer US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Recommended Qualitative Fit Tests (QLFT) for any persons at our offices in Ha Noi or HCMC. We can also conduct such testing at your company’s office or at many other venues – based on required needs. A nominal fee will be assessed based on time and materials.
Additionally, if we are conducting a fit-test and introduction to N95 devices, ESS can arrange to have a specified quantity available at your event.
More About ESS
ESS focuses our services on offering improved environmental science(s), theory, equipment, systems, statistics and results to all of our clients within Asia. We bring American and International innovations and consulting services to the Asian marketplace. ESS does not compete with other environmental consulting firms; rather, we partner with the most influential and capable local companies – bringing the most advanced and cost-effective solutions to the end client.
ESS services in Asia include:
- Air Measurement and Testing (Point Source, Ambient, Industrial Hygiene)
- Industrial Commissioning Project Implementation/Testing/Evaluation
- CEMS/CAMS/COMS Design, Integration, Installation
- CEMS/CAMS/COMS Support (Certification, RATA, Maintenance and Repair)
- Industrial Site Assessment and Remediation
- Specialty Air Quality Instrument Sales/Training/Repair
- Specialty Calibration Gas Sales
1 The Impact of PM2.5 on the Human Respiratory System. Journal of Thoracic Disease, Yu-Fei Xinh, Yue-Hua Xu, Min-Hua Shi, Yi-Xin Lian, January 2016, E69-E74.
2 Health Effects of Particulate Matter, World Health Organization-Regional Office for Europe, ISBN 978 92 890 0001 7, p6, p12
3 Air Pollution & Skin Diseases: Adverse Effects of Airborne PM on Various Skin Diseases. Kyung Eun Kim, Daeho Cho, Huyn Jeong Park. Life Sciences, Volume 152, May 2016. pp 126-134.
About Auliya Ilman
Mr. Ilman is an experienced field technician for ESSI in Ha Noi, Viet Nam office. His expertise in installation, maintenance, and indoor/outdoor testing equipment is notable throughout his career in ESSI. Not only his expertise in equipment installation and maintenance, but also he could provide solutions and recommendations to improve air quality. Throughout his career, he has done numerous time of air quality testing and monitoring, so his suggestion is trustworthy. In addition, Mr. Ilman has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and USGBC LEED Green Associate Certificate, so he has a remarkable knowledge of ongoing green building principles and practices.
Worried about air pollution from burning of straw, ministry issues directive
Air quality in some provinces and cities in the North has been worsening recently, according to the ministry.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has asked 10 northern provinces and cities to strengthen inspections and strictly handle the burning of rice straw during the rice harvest.
The main causes are dust, emissions from transport, construction and industrial production activities, along with adverse weather (inverse heat), as well as the burning of rice straw and agricultural by-products.
“This is an annual and repeated activity of farmers in northern rural areas without any effective solution to thoroughly solve it,” a newly issued directive of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment stated.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment asked the People’s Committees of provinces and cities including Hanoi, Vinh Phuc, Bac Ninh, Hai Duong, Hung Yen, Ha Nam, Hoa Binh, Phu Tho, Thai Nguyen and Bac Giang to direct local agencies such as the Departments of Natural Resources and Environment, Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Departments of Information and Communication, Departments of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the People’s Committees of districts to organize propaganda campaigns to call for people to not burn waste, rice straw and agricultural by-products after harvesting.
Farmers’ associations, women’s unions and youth unions have been asked to urge their members to sign a commitment not to burn rice straw in fields.
Relevant agencies have been asked to develop projects to guide farmers to thoroughly collect and treat by-products and post-harvest straw into useful products; and to build environmental monitoring networks, including air environment monitoring, at the provincial level.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the environmental police, and the local authorities will strengthen inspections and strictly handle the improper burning of waste and agricultural by-products after harvest. Traffic inspectors and traffic police will inspect and strictly handle vehicles carrying uncovered soil, rocks, construction materials, and solid waste from daily activities, which cause environmental pollution.
The head of the local government must bear responsibility if burning of waste, daily-life solid waste, agricultural by-products, transportation of construction materials and daily-life solid waste occurs.
Hanoi air quality improves in pandemic year but still a concern
Air quality in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi improved in 2020 but was still the 12th worst among cities in the world.
Its average annual PM2.5 concentration improved after worsening for three straight years, according to the 2020 World Air Quality Report published by IQAir on Tuesday.
The report by the Swiss air quality technology and monitoring company said in 2020 the average pollution exposure in Vietnam fell by 18 percent from 2019 levels.
Strict measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19, including mass quarantines, a one-month nationwide social distancing and restrictions on mass gatherings and mobility contributed to an 8 percent reduction in PM2.5 in Hanoi, it said.
Favorable meteorological conditions accounted for the remaining 10 percent reduction.
However, in the world capital cities ranking based on descending order of annual average PM2.5 concentration, Hanoi was in 12th place.
The city’s PM2.5 concentration of 37.9 μg/m³ remained nearly at four times the World Health Organization (WHO) target for annual exposure (10 μg/m³).
Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is defined as ambient airborne particulates that measure up to 2.5 microns in size, just a fraction of the width of a human hair. The microscopic size allows these particles to be absorbed deep into the bloodstream upon inhalation, potentially causing health effects like asthma, lung cancer, and heart disease. Exposure to PM2.5 has been linked to negative health effects like cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, and premature mortality.
At a regional level, the IQAir report said Southeast Asia faces air pollution challenges largely stemming from rapid population growth and economic development.
Its energy demand has increased sharply as a result, with electricity demand growing at around 6 percent a year. Many countries in the region continue to lack the equipment and expertise to monitor and report air pollution.
The region mostly relies on fossil fuels for energy, with oil being the leading source and coal the fastest growing.
PM2.5 emission sources in Southeast Asia vary by country and environment. On a positive note, 70 percent of cities in Southeast Asia enjoyed improved air quality in 2020.
The report said while gains in air quality monitoring have helped raise awareness, most cities still lack public real-time data. In rural areas, the impact of open burning of rice straw and other materials for heating and cooking remains largely unmitigated.
Rapid urbanization and a growing economy also contribute to ambient PM2.5 levels. Without additional policy measures, PM2.5 concentrations in Vietnamese cities could increase by as much as 20-30 percent by 2030, it said.
The report made use of data from more than 15,000 ground-based monitoring stations in 106 countries.
Globally, Delhi of India, Dhaka (Bangladesh) and Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) had the worst air quality last year, while Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden) and Charlotte Amalie (U.S. Virgin Islands) were the cleanest.
Frank Hammes, CEO of IQAir, said: “The year 2020 brought an unexpected dip in air pollution. In 2021 we will likely see an increase in air pollution due to human activity.
“We hope this report will highlight that urgent action is both possible and necessary to combat air pollution, which remains the world’s greatest environmental health threat.”