Diseases linked to pollution caused by a fast growing network of coal-fired power plants kill around 4,300 people in Vietnam each year, according to a new estimate by scientists.
A study released at a conference in Hanoi on Tuesday claims that once all planned power projects become operational, the annual death count may hit 25,000.
Air pollution-related illnesses linked to power plants have been relatively well documented, but the new study also pointed out that water sources in Vietnam have also become increasingly contaminated by the waste discharged from these plants.
It singled out the Dien Vong River in the northern province of Quang Ninh, saying a local power plant has seriously polluted the river with a wide range of toxic substances.
Speaking at the conference, Tran Dinh Sinh, who runs non-profit group Green Innovation and Development, said the number of deaths caused by coal power pollution will increase, which will result in a heavier burden on the healthcare system.
Sinh was particularly concerned about Vietnam's plan to increase power outputs from thermal plants, eventually to 50 percent of its total power generation in 2030. He said with this plan, Vietnam is going against the global trend to move from fossil fuel to greener alternatives.