Ho Chi Minh City’s environment department has proposed the city spend US$3.5 million on a new air quality monitoring system to replace an obsolete one.
In 2003 the city built nine automatic air monitoring stations with funding from the Danish and Norwegian governments, but they have been badly damaged and unusable since 2012.
The environment department has thus proposed nine new stations. The priority is to have at least four as soon as possible, which are estimated to cost around VND78 billion, or nearly US$3.5 million.
Air quality in the city now is now measured by a semi-automatic system that operates between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., and between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Environment officials said the timeframe is "impractical" as these are not the periods of heaviest traffic.
Besides, samples are taken, by human staff, on certain days each month for testing, which means the system cannot provide a complete picture of pollution.
The department in March urged the city government to set up 27 automatic air quality check stations and 225 semi-automatic ones by 2020. The stations are estimated to cost around $22 million.
Tests by the environment department released late last year found air pollution in the city has worsened. The concentration of toxic gases like carbon monoxide reached alarming points, especially at new urban areas like Districts 7 and Go Vap. The levels of dust in many places were twice the acceptable limit.
Vehicles, especially motorbikes, have been identified as a major cause of air pollution in the city, the most crowded in Vietnam with 12 million people including migrants.
Around 140 new cars and 750 new motorbikes are registered in the city every day.