Harmful Air Quality in Hanoi Poses Health Risks

02/02/2024

Harmful Air Quality in Hanoi Poses Health Risks

On the morning of February 2, widespread fog engulfed several areas in Hanoi, with the air pollution index surpassing 200, reaching a level deemed “harmful to health.”

AirVisual, a global air quality measurement organization, reported that the air quality index (AQI) in numerous locations within the capital exceeded 200 on the morning of February 2, representing a hazardous level of pollution. This elevated pollution poses a health risk, particularly impacting the elderly and young children, leading to respiratory ailments such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and respiratory failure. Forecasts predict that the indices will persist at dangerous levels, especially during the early morning hours, in the days to come.

Similarly, on the PamAir air quality monitoring application, which covers all 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam, many measuring points in the capital recorded red and purple air quality indexes, signaling dangerous levels.

The National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting anticipates that the prevailing pattern of fog, drizzle, and humid weather will persist in the North and North Central regions in the coming days.

Meteorological experts attribute the air pollution phenomenon to unabated emission sources, exacerbated by humid conditions and dense fog, causing airborne dust to accumulate at lower altitudes and disperse more extensively.

Dense fog covers Hanoi at 7am. Photo: Thuy An

Dr. Le Hoan, Head of the Department of Endocrinology and Respiratory Medicine at Hanoi Medical University Hospital, explained that dense fog results from high air humidity and low temperatures, significantly impacting individuals with chronic respiratory diseases, the elderly, and young children. These conditions create a favorable environment for the growth and spread of viruses and bacteria, leading to increased respiratory infections. Breathing air during foggy weather exposes individuals to cold air and high humidity, causing symptoms such as chills, cough, runny nose, and itchy eyes.

Furthermore, fine dust and other household exhaust gases and impurities present in dense fog can exacerbate respiratory discomfort, causing difficulty breathing. Fine dust particles, upon entering the body, penetrate the airways, leading to damage to the tracheal and bronchial lining. They can also reach the alveoli, the end of the gas exchange organ, causing inflammation and fibrosis, resulting in various respiratory diseases.

Long-term exposure to fine dust can lead to complications and the development of chronic lung diseases. Additionally, fine dust particles, being of small size, can penetrate the alveoli and capillaries, entering the body’s circulation and causing cardiovascular damage, cerebral strokes, and brain damage when exposed for extended periods.

Individuals with heart and respiratory problems, pregnant women, children, and the elderly are more susceptible to the adverse effects of fine dust. Prolonged exposure may lead to miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects, and even death.

Sudden temperature fluctuations during the day, alternating between dry and wet conditions, affect the body’s metabolism. Young children, the elderly, and individuals with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions need to exercise caution when venturing outdoors.

Dense fog affects health, especially the elderly and young children. Photo: Thuy An

To mitigate the harmful effects of fog, experts recommend wearing masks properly, limiting outdoor activities during foggy and polluted weather, and avoiding early morning outings for high-risk groups. Ensuring proper ventilation indoors and refraining from opening windows until the fog clears is advised.

Cleaning carpets, sofas, and floors with a vacuum cleaner and using air purifiers can help improve humidity and air cleanliness. A diet rich in vitamins from fruits and vegetables, along with increased water intake, is recommended. Moderate consumption of salt and fat, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol intake are additional measures.

Individuals are encouraged to monitor their blood pressure, listen to their bodies, and adopt healthy practices such as regular exercise to improve overall health and resistance.

Thuy An

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