Air quality figures taken at a site in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 suggests that the daily average air pollution in Vietnam’s largest city is more than four times above the safe limit established by the World Heath Organisation (WHO).
The readings, taken at a location in Thao Dien close to the Saigon River, measure the air quality from the beginning of August 2015 up to the beginning of March 2016, averaging at 258,328 per day on the Air Quality Index (AQI). With readings between 151,000 and 200,000 deemed to be ‘unhealthy’, and readings between 201,000 and 300,000 deemed to be ‘very unhealthy’, this is a big cause for concern. Good air quality measures between 0 and 50,000, while moderate runs from 51,000 to 100,000.
According to the readings, the worst month during this period was October 2015 when the AQI reached 1,650,000 — this was on Oct. 6. Why it soared to that level is unclear. Perhaps it is the result of pollution from factories in the industrial zone in nearby Binh Duong and District 9. What is clear is that this compares to Beijing, the most polluted city in the world, which on a bad day can see readings breaking the one million barrier.
Conversely, during this period only a few readings were within safe limits — mainly in August and September 2015 right in the middle of the rainy season. On Aug. 24 the AQI was 29,000, on Aug. 26, 31,000 and on Sep. 17 it hit a low of 15,000. Yet on Sep. 10 the AQI hit 870,000.
These figures contrast substantially with those found on the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City’s website. At the time of writing, according to the consulate the air quality is 77,000, while out in District 2 it is approximately 130,000.