Like Beijing, Hanoi had only 38 days of clean air in 2017

Heavy industries, construction works, vehicles and agriculture burning contributed to air pollution. The city is more polluted than Indonesia’s capital Jakarta. Vietnam plans to build more coal power plants.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, enjoyed little more than a month of clean air last year as pollution levels rose to match China's smog-prone capital, Beijing, this according to a report by the Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID), a Hanoi-based, government-recognised non-profit organisation set up by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA).

The study found that annual average air pollution in Hanoi in 2017 was four times higher than those deemed acceptable by the World Health Organisation's air quality guidelines.

Air pollution in Hanoi is due to a number of factors, including a rise in construction works, an increase in car and motorcycle use, and agriculture burning by farmers.

But research in the report suggests that heavy industries, like steel works, cement factories and coal power plants in areas near the capital, are also significant contributors.

The city’s air pollution is now worse than the Indonesian capital Jakarta, the report showed, and things are unlikely to improve as Vietnam pushes ahead with plans to build more coal power plants.

In mid-2016 the Vietnam government launched a national action plan to control and monitor emissions and improve air quality. Hanoi is planning to install 70 air monitoring stations.

The GreenID report criticised the lack of regulations on air quality, a lack of public awareness of the problem and on effective measures to minimize the effects – such as home purifiers.

Better urban planning and investments in renewable energy and public transport systems are also needed, the report said.