Air quality in Vietnam

September 24, 2019 | 11:41 AM

An air quality index (AQI) is used by government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted the air currently is or how polluted it is forecast to become. Public health risks increase as the AQI rises. Different countries have their own air quality indices, corresponding to different national air quality standards.



Air quality in Vietnam today

Computation of the AQI requires an air pollutant concentration over a specified averaging period, obtained from an air monitor or model. Taken together, concentration and time represent the dose of the air pollutant. Health effects corresponding to a given dose are established by epidemiological research. Air pollutants vary in potency, and the function used to convert from air pollutant concentration to AQI varies by pollutant. Its air quality index values are typically grouped into ranges. Each range is assigned a descriptor, a color code, and a standardized public health advisory.

The AQI can increase due to an increase of air emissions (for example, during rush hour traffic or when there is an upwind forest fire) or from a lack of dilution of air pollutants. Stagnant air, often caused by an anticyclone, temperature inversion, or low wind speeds lets air pollution remain in a local area, leading to high concentrations of pollutants, chemical reactions between air contaminants and hazy conditions.

On a day when the AQI is predicted to be elevated due to fine particle pollution, an agency or public health organization might:

  • advise sensitive groups, such as the elderly, children, and those with respiratory or cardiovascular problems, to avoid outdoor exertion.
  • declare an "action day" to encourage voluntary measures to reduce air emissions, such as using public transportation.
  • recommend the use of masks to keep fine particles from entering the lungs

During a period of very poor air quality, such as an air pollution episode, when the AQI indicates that acute exposure may cause significant harm to the public health, agencies may invoke emergency plans that allow them to order major emitters (such as coal burning industries) to curtail emissions until the hazardous conditions abate.

Most air contaminants do not have an associated AQI. Many countries monitor ground-level ozone, particulates, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, and calculate air quality indices for these pollutants.

So, when you round trip in Vietnam, you need to find air quality to ensuring health.