Sunday, June 19, 2011

Growing pollution threatens development, Vietnam - 17th June 2011

A five-year study found that Vietnam spends up to 3 percent of its gross domestic product on mitigating the effects of environmental pollution.

Dang Thi Thanh Loan’s sore throat has continued to bother her despite two weeks of intensive medical treatment.

“My health has become worse in recent years,” said the 54-year-old Ho Chi Minh City housewife. “It takes longer and longer to recover from any illness.”

The situation is even worse for Second Lieutenant Ngo Quang Chanh, a traffic patrolman in HCMC’s District 5.

Chanh says he’s suffered from multiple respiratory ailments due to the city’s deteriorating air quality.

“We have to be on the street during most of the day, patrolling or directing traffic,” he said. “That’s our job. Patrolmen are not allowed to wear [dust] masks on duty.”

Despite different working environments, both Loan and Chanh have suffered from the effects of increasing air pollution, which experts say has been exacerbated by urbanization, industrialization and climate change.

A report released last year, by the Transportation Ministry’s Health Department found 51.5 percent of adults in Hanoi and 35.36 percent in HCMC have suffered an acute sinus infection caused by pollution.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of children in Hanoi and 41 percent in HCMC have suffered sore throats caused by airborne pollutants, the report found.

A 2009 survey of 1,570 traffic policemen in HCMC found that the majority of traffic patrolmen have contracted respiratory illnesses due to their constant exposure to environmental pollution.

Last Friday, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment presented the 2010 National Environment Report in Hanoi.

The authors of the report announced that Vietnam’s environment is changing in a “complicated manner” due to the rapid rise in pollution.

The report, which is released every five years, warned against severe water pollution in the river basins of Cau, Nhue – Day in the north and Dong Nai in the south and coastal areas; air pollution and flooding in urban areas, industrial parks and trade villages; and agricultural pollution caused by the improper use of fertilizers and other chemicals.

“We are facing many challenges, including severe environmental pollution and the impact of climate change,” said Pham Khoi Nguyen, minister of Natural Resources and Environment during the launch of the report. “Environmental pollution in urban areas, industrial parks, trade villages and river basins nationwide, along with other deleterious environmental problems, has become major sources of public concern.” Read More