Air quality in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Abstract

This paper reviews the state of air quality in Ho Chi Minh City as conducted by several organisations in recent years. A comparison of the air quality in HCM City with some other cities in the region is also made. It is shown that the air quality of both indoor and outdoor (ambient) has been deteriorated in recent years. This is mainly due to the increase in the usage of vehicles and an increasing number of industries in and around the city.

Compared with other cities, such as Beijing, Tokyo, Bangkok and Manila, the level of SO2 pollution is below those of these cities while the levels of CO and NO2 are approaching the levels of these cities. In the case of particle pollution, the peak particle level at some heavy traffic sites in HCM City is very high and exceeds those of Bangkok and Manila. The lead pollution is less than that of Bangkok. However, the lead level will be rapidly increasing unless concrete action is implemented.

Experiences of other cities in the area of environment management can be applied to prevent serious degradation of air quality in the city. Suggestion for some measures that can be incorporated quickly into an integrated air quality and transport management plan is presented.

Introduction

Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City is a major city in Vietnam with a population of 4.7 millions (1994) with a natural growth rate of 1.49%, not counting migrants (mainly from the country areas) and temporary residents. It has an area of about 2,056 km and an average density of 2,282 inhabitants/ km . The tropical climate has a yearly average temperature of 27 C and relative humidity of 77.8% (1).

As in other bustling and growing cities in the region, the main contribution of air pollution is from motor vehicles. Besides motor vehicles, industrial sources in the city and surrounding areas of Dong Nai province are also contributing to the air pollution problem especially in the residential areas around these sources.

As projected, with an estimated annual population growth rate of 1.63 percent, the population of the city will easily exceed 5 millions in the year 2000. This means the city is in the category of supercities. Eventhough, it is still not in the league of megacities, such as those of Bangkok, Jakarta, Beijing or Manila, the high economic growth in recent years has accompanied a rapid degradation of environment quality. Frequent visitors to the city are usually struck by the rapid increasing of congestion and the amount of traffic in many streets, reminiscing of the situation in Bangkok in the 80s.

Due to an increase level of air pollution in the city, a number of organisations in the city have recently conducted some initial studies of air quality and the effects of air pollution on the population. Permanent monitoring stations are not yet established but data are collected occasionally, for a number of days, at a number of sites in the city. These sites are mainly near heavy traffic roads. The collected data are not yet comprehensive to give an overall picture but is indicative enough to give some information on the state of air quality in HCM City.

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