[health-vn] ENV/Health: pollution threatens health
vern.weitzel at gmail.com
Sat Apr 4 23:02:06 EST 2009
Subject: [vnnews-l] ENV/Health: pollution threatens health
Date: Sat, 4 Apr 2009 00:19:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: Stephen Denney <sdenney at OCF.Berkeley.EDU>
sent to vnnews-l by Stephen Denney <sdenney at OCF.Berkeley.EDU>
Vietnam pollution threatens health
3rd April 2009
As Vietnam's economy has boomed in recent decades, so too have pollution
levels in its major cities, with experts concerned that air pollution
could pose a major public health concern.
"Environmental pollution in Vietnam is a real problem," said Tuong Lai,
former dean of Vietnam's Social Science Institute.
"It's not just foreign visitors who have complained about our dust
pollution - people in our country are also very dissatisfied with it," he
A study conducted by employment consultants ORC Worldwide put economic
boomtowns Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi on a list of the 20 worst cities in
the world in which to live and work, for environmental reasons.
Air pollution was cited as a key factor for both Ho Chi Minh City, which
was the ninth worst place to live, and Hanoi, which was ranked 11th worst.
A 2008 environmental report by the World Bank ranked the two cities as the
worst in Vietnam for pollution, while an environmental study by 400
international scientists in the same year said Hanoi and Saigon were the
worst-ranked cities for dust pollution in the whole of Asia.
And experts at a Southeast Asia air pollution seminar hosted by the
Industrial Institute of Asia warned that air pollution in Vietnam had
reached dangerous levels.
In 2007, Vietnam started to publish results of its own surveys, with an
Environmental Protection Bureau report officially recognizing in 2007 that
dust pollution was a serious problem in Vietnam.
Vietnamese residents of the worst-ranked cities were well aware of the
heath effects, and of the effect on tourism revenues.
"The atmosphere in this country is now seriously polluted, yet the
government has not found any solutions," one Hanoi resident said.
"The air pollution in Saigon and Hanoi has annoyed not only the people in
the country, but also the Vietnamese who come back to Vietnam as
visitors," he said.
"It has disappointed so many foreign tourists, too."
Thousands of deaths
Health authorities say that thousands of cases of death or illness have
been confirmed as having been caused by atmospheric pollution with carbon
monoxide, sulfur dioxide, benzene, and fine particulates (dust).
In 2007 the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that an average of
16,000 deaths a year in Vietnam are now caused by air pollution, with
thousands of people now confirmed to be suffering from pulmonary disease.
Environmental studies blame fuel emissions from public transportation and
industrial pollution from factories.
Pressure is now growing on Hanoi from international as well as domestic
environment specialists to step up controls on industrial pollution and
clarify the responsibilities of the various government agencies involved
in environmental protection.
Calls are emerging in domestic media for the government to enforce a
switch to cleaner fuels, and to punish or penalise anyone causing
"Pollution greatly affects the health of our people," Tuong Lai said.
"Therefore the government must make multiple efforts to make a healthy
living environment for the people who crowd such big cities as Saigon [Ho
Chi Minh City] and Hanoi," he added.
Original reporting by RFA's Vietnamese service. Vietnamese service
director: Diem Nguyen. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Written for the
web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
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