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Tinh Hải Dương is a province in Northern Vietnam in the Red River Delta and is oneof the most industrialised provinces in Vietnam. The 2019 population level wasin excess of 2.5 million people. It is a 1 hour’s journey by car to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city.
At the beginning of 2021, Tinh Hải Dương had poor quality air with a US AQI indexnumber of 172 which classed it as “Unhealthy” according to the World HealthOrganisation (WHO). The levels of concentrations for the pollutants were asfollows: PM2.5 - 95.4 µg/m³, PM10 - 177 µg/m³, ozone (O3) - 3.7µg/m³, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - 105.9 µg/m³, sulphur dioxide (SO2)- 4.5 µg/m³ and carbon monoxide (CO) - 2128.3 µg/m³. With air quality being aspoor as this, the advice would be to close doors and windows to prevent theingress of dirty air inside the house. If it is necessary to go outside thenwearing a good quality mask is advisable, but outdoor exercise should be avoided until the air quality improves.
At the end of 2020, northern Vietnam saw levels of air pollution rise to levelswhich are classed as hazardous to health. This was based on data from several trackingstations across the region. In Tinh Bac Ninh the AQI indexrecorded levels between 150 and 243. Anything above 100 is considered to beunhealthy. At that time of year, Vietnam is at the start of their winter wherenocturnal and early morning fog prevent pollutants from being dissipated due to temperature inversion.
Hai Duong province has 27 out of 48 establishments conducting environmental impactassessment. According to the monitoring results, in these facilities, the dustconcentration is 10-25 times higher than the standard, the concentration of carbonmonoxide (CO), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2)emissions are higher than that of the ambient air quality measurement results.
There are over 50 industrial zones/units in Tinh Hai Duong and this is where the highest levels of pollution will occur.
In general, the air environment in the rural areas of the province is notpolluted. However, the phenomenon of local pollution has appeared in someareas. The reason is that human activities, industrial productionestablishments in craft villages, handicrafts, animal husbandry, individualhouseholds in residential areas use chemicals, solvents, and recycle wastes.Besides, the situation of people drying and burning the straw after harvest,the situation of burning rubbish in landfills pollutes the surrounding airenvironment. It is very common for individual households to use charcoal orhoneycomb charcoal as a source of energy in their domestic stoves. During thecolder winter months, the space within the home needs to be heated which is whythe quality of air is always poorer in colder months.
Twenty years ago it took a long time to travel from Tinh Hai Duong to Hanoi. Sincethen the road network has been extensively increased in such a way that it isnow possible to make that same journey in about 1 hour. Agricultural producecan be made ready and packaged and be offered for sale in Hanoi markets in lessthan 90 minutes. There are 650 kilometres of the road network that haverecently been constructed or improved. This makes these roads ideal for thetransportation of manufactured goods and fresh products to be quickly sent todistribution centres in Hanoi. Most of this will be done using big oldheavy-duty trucks with large diesel-powered engines.These engines are not environmentally friendly and are a considerable source of PM2.5 particulates.
Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial facilities, forest fires and theburning of organic matter in rural areas are the main sources of air pollution in Tinh Hai Duong.
Straw burning in the countryside not only pollutes the air in the rural areas butalso can send haze to the urban areas nearby, but there are plans to make this practice illegal from 2021.
Many of the factories in the industrial zones are relying on machinery that is veryold and is not fitted with the latest technology, such as filters being fittedto the chimneys. Some could be retro-fitted but for the majority, this would prove too costly so tends to be ignored.
When companies are in business to make money many shortcuts or cost-cuttingprocedures are followed. Cheaper coal can be used which is often high inlignite and therefore will emit more pollutants than more expensive cleanercoal. Even gasoline and diesel can be “diluted” with cheaper hydrocarbonsbecause of the various taxation rules on such products.
Monitoring of air quality in general and dust such as PM10, in particular, has beencarried out by periodic monitoring waves in different phases of the year.Monitoring results of the current environmental status of Hai Duong province,phase 1 and phase 2 of 2019, showed that the air quality in the residentialarea was relatively good. Only a few urban areas had the total suspended dust(TSP) and dust PM10 parameters exceeding the permitted standards but the level didnot follow a pattern. The number of urban residential air environmentmonitoring points at the time of the second monitoring with dust parametersexceeding previous levels was higher than in phase 1. The first monitoring resultsin urban areas only had 1 out of 18 viewpoints. The PM10 dust parameter was1.08 times higher than the accepted standard; TSP dust parameters and noiseboth met the requirements. The second monitoring results in urban areas had 5out of 18 monitoring points with TSP dust concentrations exceeding 1.13-2. 5times the acceptable limit and 2 out of 18 residential areas in urban area havePM10 dust parameter 1.3-1.43 times higher than permitted. Results of monitoringphase 1 and phase 2 in rural areas, all parameters met the standards.
In the forthcoming year, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment willcontinue to carry out periodic air quality monitoring according to the approvedenvironmental status monitoring network in Hai Duong province with a frequencyof 4 times per year. They have plans to install 5 automatic and fixedenvironmental monitoring stations in An Luu ward and Duy Tan commune (KinhMon), Sao Do ward (Chi Linh city), Co Dung commune (Kim Thanh) and Hai Duongcity to monitor the air environment with 9 basic parameters, including dustparameters for PM2.5 and PM10 as well as some other microclimate parameters.The installation of an automatic and fixed environmental monitoring system willhelp professional agencies to promptly detect fluctuations in the airenvironment, especially fine dust pollution, superfine dust to promptly advise people of how to protect their health.
A team of researchers from a research centre in Australia observed the effects ofhigher carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in laboratory rats anddetected limitations in lung function development in young mice. The effectsinclude altering the pulmonary sac or alveoli which is the vital part of thelung that is responsible for gas exchange thus leading to difficulty breathing.In addition, a higher concentration of carbon dioxide also changes the naturalstructure of the lung. These changes cause the lungs to not function properly.
According to scientists, humans have evolved to be able to breathe carbon dioxide in theatmosphere at a concentration of 300 ppm, but the current concentration is about 400 ppm (parts per million).
Assuming the current carbon dioxide concentration doubled over the next 100 years, theteam exposed the test rats to a concentration of 900 ppm at different times:during pregnancy, birth and in adolescence. The researchers were surprised tofind that in rats exposed only to higher concentrations during adulthood, thelungs showed no signs of being affected. It may be because the adult mouse's lungs are mature, according to the researchers.
This work provides the first evidence that higher concentrations of carbon dioxide inthe air can affect lung development. However, more research is needed tounderstand the implications for the overall health of young children in the future.It was emphasized that the lungs are the first organ in the body that can beaffected by carbon dioxide levels and the expression in the lungs suggests that other organs can also be affected.
As with most situations, it will depend on the existing state of health. A strong,young person is much more likely to be less affected by poor air quality thanan older person with pre-existing health problems, in particular, respiratoryproblems. Children are at particular risk because their lungs are not yet fullydeveloped and they tend to be a lot more active, most of the time.
Data sources 1