Vietnam too slow in setting indoor air standards

While other governments worldwide have set up national standards for indoor air, Vietnam, which faces serious air pollution, still does not have a set of standards.

Residents are suffering as a consequence. Nguyen Ngoc Tuan and his family moved to a new apartment in Dong Anh District several months ago. Since then, Tuan has suffered from shortness of breath and headaches, while his two children cough regularly. The doctors said they have pneumonia. 

“My family and I were very strong before and I cannot understand why we got sick,” he said. 
“The doctor then told me that we lived in a bad environment with toxicity from new wooden furniture and paints.”

In another case, recently, tens of people unexpectedly fainted at Big C supermarket at The Garden in Nam Tu Liem District in Hanoi. The reason, according to environmental monitoring experts, was caused by poor indoor air quality.

Ngo Quoc Khanh, from the Scientific Research Institute of Labor Protection, said the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that indoor air pollution has contributed to 50 percent of diseases affecting humans.

The most common pollutants indoors (houses, offices…) are mold, bacteria, dust, volatile organic compounds and microorganisms. The pollutants come from many sources such as cigarette smoke, firewood stoves, gas stoves, household use items, and cleaners. 

Conventional pollutants  found in the home (home and office) include mold, bacteria, dust, organic compounds volatile, microorganisms.  The pollutants are emitted from many sources such as cigarette smoke, firewood stoves, gas stoves, appliances, household items, and office cleaners, among others. 

Dr. Nguyen Huy Nga from the Ministry of Health noted that indoor air pollution is the culprit behind many diseases. In some cases, exposure to several kinds of toxic chemicals for a long time may cause cancer.

A research team from the Scientific Research Institute of Labor Protection recently conducted a survey on six offices located in four buildings in the inner city of Hanoi which were built in 2008 with central ventilation and air conditioning systems.

They found that formaldehyde, ozone and dust concentrations were all very high. Particularly, the microbiological criteria went far beyond the recommended levels. This was attributed to air recirculation from ventilation and air conditioning systems.

However, since there are no standards for indoor air in the country, the assessment of air quality continues to challenge scientists and management bodies.

The Ministry of Health worked on the standards in 2013, but the Prime Minister’s Decision No 25 released in 2014 said this was a task of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

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