Toxic emissions worsen on Ho Chi Minh City roads

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Ho Chi Minh City's streets are being increasingly polluted by factory and vehicle emissions, including toxic gas, city public health doctors said at a recent meeting.

Measurements, done with equipment at six crossroads in the city's downtown and outskirts over the past five years, found suspended dust at five times acceptable amounts, and escalated amounts of lead, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.

At some points in the day, the average amount of carcinogenic benzen, the main element in fuel emissions, from all measurement stations was ten times the standard, doctors said at the meeting held by the city Public Health Association, news website VnExpress reported Thursday.

Doctor Nguyen Dinh Tuan from the University of Natural Resources and Environment said measurements over the past five years showed the amount of dust in the air along the city's sidewalks was at "alarming" levels.

Tuan said the pollution is a major threat to people's health.

"Suspended dust, nitrogen dioxide and carcinogenic benzen are serious pollutants to the environment. The amount of lead in the air is rather high compared to international levels as well," he said.

"This pollution would adversely affect people's health, especially that of people living and working on the sidewalk."

Tuan said the results mean the city's air environment has not improved since 2010, when the World Bank ranked it among the ten most heavily dust-polluted cities in the world.

Figures from Ho Chi Minh City's ENT Hospital released at the meeting showed an increase in patients every year of late.

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The hospital is receiving nearly a thousand people for examinations every day, around half of them with rhinitis and sinusitis from dust inhalation.

A doctor from the city's Tumor Hospital said "when the main means of transport in the city are still cars and motorbikes, people need to protect themselves by cleaning their nose and ears regularly, and wear a mask on the street."

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