Air quality in Tinh Lam Dong

Air quality index (AQI) and PM2.5 air pollution in Tinh Lam Dong

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What is the level of air pollution in Tinh Lam Dong?

Tinh Lam Dong is a Vietnamese province located in the central highlands, its capitalbeing the city of Da Lat. According to the results recorded by the monitoringsystem, the average air quality index of Tinh Lam Dong province was about 48 USAQI, which puts it in the green level. This is considered a good indicator and,as such, does not adversely affect human health. The number always indicates agood level at all times of the day. And even, when compared to other provinces,Tinh Lam Dong is still the place with the best and safest air indexmeasurements.

The air quality in this area is very good when compared to the two big cities ofHanoi, in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south. In comparison, Hanoirecords a US AQI figure of 154 whereas Ho Chi Minh City records a level of 107.The Da Lat figure is an impressive 46. In September 2019 Hanoi was declared themost polluted city in South East Asia with a US AQI measurement of 204! Whencompared to other tourist destination in Vietnam, Da Lat is always the best.

Can the air quality in Tinh Lam Dong be improved?

It is imperative that the waste treatment plant that was inaugurated in 2015,should become more efficient. In the four years that the plant has been inproduction, only 40 per cent capacity has ever been achieved. Because of thisunder capacity, the balance of garbage has to be returned to Cam Ly landfillsite, but with a volume of between 110 and 140 tons per day, the facility soonbecame overwhelmed.

Currently in Lam Dong, apart from the Da Lat garbage recycling plant, there is a wastetreatment plant in Bao Loc city. In the process of waste treatment, there areoften by-products such as fertilizer and block bricks which can be very useful.

Da Lat city will level the garbage spilt around the city and households areencouraged to cover the garbage and plant trees over it. The planting of thesetrees will help clean the air and prevent dust from blowing.

Residents need to be aware of steps they can take to improve the air quality in Tinh LamDong. They need to be encouraged not to litter the streets or burn unwantedgarbage. Planting trees and other greenery helps clean the air. The increaseduse of public transport is very beneficial as it reduces the number of privatevehicles in use. Clean, unadulterated fuel is to be also encouraged. It iscommonplace in countries such as Vietnam to mix gasoline with cheaperhydrocarbons to use as fuel. Hydrocarbons can be cheaper because they carrylittle or no tax. This is something that the government could soon redress.

What health implications are there of breathing poor quality air in Tinh Lam Dong?

People's lives in Yet Kieu residential group, ward 5, Da Lat city, Lam Dong province arebeing turned upside down because of the smell coming from the local chickenfarms. When the sun is shining, thehouse smells awful, and in the rainy season, flies fill the house. There are 3chicken farms here that concentrate on egg production and the owner of two ofthem has asked the government for help to relocate his premises to land beyondthe suburbs. As yet nothing has happened and the chickens remain.

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O)and methane (CH4) are the main emissions from chickens. Ammonia (NH3)is also produced in significant quantities which is both directly andindirectly hazardous to health.

PM2.5 particles are thought to be the most deadly because they have the most negativeimpact on human health. Because of its very small size, PM2.5 dust is verydangerous, able to deposit, absorb and go deep into the alveoli at the base ofthe bronchial tubes and eventually into the blood. Each day we breathe about10,000 litres of air or even more if participating in strenuous activity.Therefore, if the PM2.5 dust concentration in the air is high then the dailyexposure level is large and increases the risk of acute and chronic healthproblems. According to data released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in2016, over 60,000 people in Vietnam died from heart disease, stroke, lungcancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia. Coal-firedindustries, internal combustion engines and thermal power plants, along withthe use of solid fuels such as honeycomb charcoal, are major sources of airpollution. Air pollution continues to increase at an alarming rate and affectsthe economies and the quality of life of people who are subject to it.

In addition to ambient air pollution, air pollution from household smoke is a hugehealth risk to the 3 billion people who cook and heat their homes with biomassfuel, honeycomb charcoal and coal. . Approximately 3.8 million premature deathscould be attributed to household air pollution in 2016. Household air pollutionis also a major source of ambient air pollution in both urban and rural areas.

What are the main sources of air pollution in Tinh Lam Dong?

According to data from the agriculture and rural development sector of Lam Dong province,the province currently has nearly 300,000 hectares of agricultural land andover 350,000 hectares of cultivated land. The amount of agricultural wastedumped into the environment every year is very large which, if not handledproperly, will greatly affect the lives of the residents. Agricultural waste producedduring processing includes plant residues, waste from manufacturing processessuch as trays, plastic trays, foam blisters, fertilizer bags and pesticidebottles. When there is heavy rain,bottles and other lightweight material and agricultural waste overflows intolakes and streams.

The area around Tinh Lam Dong is greatly suited to agricultural use due to itstemperate climate. Fruit, vegetables and flowers grow in abundance here and areshipped all over Vietnam and also exported to neighbouring countries, such asCambodia. With this huge amount of produce being handled, it is obvious thatthe resultant garbage produced is huge too. The produce has to be transportedout of the area using gasoline-burning trucks and lorries.

In one particular area that concentrates on growing flowers, it seems to be commonpractice for the farmers to dump unwanted vegetation at the side of the river.During the rainy season this vegetation, together with any garbage mixed inwith it is washed towards the Xuan Huong Lake. There is a crude filter typesystem in place which uses a series of bars to trap the garbage thus preventingit from getting into the lake. This, in reality, has little or no effectbecause the garbage merely flows over the top of the bars.

Several years ago, a mountain of garbage from the landfill site at Cam Ly was washedaway with the onset of the rainy season. As it moved downhill it swampedeverything in its path including greenhouses, vegetable gardens andagricultural equipment. A total of sevenhectares of land was covered by this landslide. A solution was offered when asolid waste treatment plant was inaugurated not far from Da Lat City. Thisplant went into operation in 2015 using modern technology to burn and recyclemost of the waste to make microbiological fertilizer, block bricks and fuel oilamongst other things. The Cam Ly landfill site was then officially closed.

Unfortunately, the waste treatment plant did not perform as well as expected and the landfillsite was forced to reopen. Decaying waste from this landfill site creates gaseswhich contribute to the poor air quality in this area.

What advice can be given to those suffering from poor air quality in Tinh Lam Dong province?

When the air quality is poor and the dust levels are high, the first and mostobvious people affected by it are patients with pre-existing respiratoryconditions. The patient will find it harder to breathe, cough more, and feelpressure in the chest. Studies show that in times of extreme weather or highair pollution, the frequency of patients hospitalized for respiratory andcardiovascular reasons is higher. Therefore, it is recommended that people withrespiratory illnesses should not go outside when it is not really necessary,especially during times of heavy air pollution. The wearing of a good qualitymask is always recommended if going outside is unavoidable.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution is thought of as a silentkiller. They estimate that around 30 per cent of cancer victims are related toexposure to poor quality air.

For patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, it is necessaryto adhere to and maintain the daily medication as prescribed by their doctor.At the first sign of breathing difficulties, the patient must contact theirdoctor and take advice.

Avoid taking exercise nearby busy roadsespecially not near congested intersections. Consider walking through shoppingmalls if they are close by. The quality of their air is often much better thanthat you would breathe outside.

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