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Vietnam air pollution among the worst in the world

The quality of the environment in Vietnam has steadily dropped compared to other nations in the world, according to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), which is compiled by prestigious global environmental centers.

The survey is coordinated by scientists from the environmental studies centers of Yale University and Columbia University in the US and in the European Union, who have carried out the research for years in 132 nations.

In the general environmental index, Vietnam is ranked 79th -- the lower part in the middle group. But on specific detailed criteria, Vietnam displayed even worse performance, including air quality with effects on human health, water, and environmental burden of disease.

At the alarming rate

Air quality in Vietnam is lagging among the ten worst nations in the world, ranking 123rd, and it is forecast that air pollution will continue to worsen in the near future and may fall to 125th place, according to the EPI survey.

This information, while alarming, is now new, as independent surveys by Vietnamese agencies have reached the conclusion that the country’s air pollution has worsened at a steady rate and has reached an alarming level, said Ph.D. Ngo Duc The -- a Vietnamese professor of the National University of Singapore.

Smoke and dust created by trucks are the main factors leading to the decline in air quality in Vietnam, especially in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The other important aspect of this ranking is water. Despite making improvements in the management of subterranean water and rivers over the past decade, Vietnam’s water quality is ranked 80th in the world by the EPI.

A fact worth further examination in water management is that Vietnam possesses a high potentiality of fresh water reserves thanks to its system of interlaced rivers and streams and canals, but locals have nonetheless endured the lack of water and low quality water on a daily basis.

A survey by the Vietnamese government announced in 2010 showed that only 40 percent of the population in rural areas had access to clean water supply.

In addition, the natural resources of fish and forestry products in Vietnam have also been declining.

Ph.D. Le Huy Ba, chief of the Institute for Environmental Management and Technology, added that environmental management in Vietnam has been even worse than stated in the report, as it excluded information on soil quality in Vietnam.

Land for agricultural purposes has been diminished recently for construction projects such as golf courses and new urban centers. The quality of ground has faced erosion, exhaust and pollution due to the use of diesel, organic and microbiological substances for farming, he added.

The ongoing trend of migration from rural regions to cities has also created risks and deteriorated the quality of the environment, Ba said.