The haze has covered iconic towers like Landmark 81, Vietnam’s tallest building with 81 floors, and 68-floor Bitexco tower in downtown area. It is so thick that the buildings cannot be seen from 300 meters away. Drivers’ vision has been affected by the haze.
A view from Thu Thiem Bridge in District 2 shows the city center shrouded in a thick haze in the morning of September 22, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen.
Meteorologist Le Dinh Quyet explained the haze as being caused by a tropical convergence zone, a band of clouds consisting of showers formed in Vietnam’s south central region, causing heavy rain in the morning and evening. With low daytime temperatures, this led to a high level of humidity, causing the haze, he said.
"The phenomenon also shows air pollution and high dust levels in the air," Quyet said, adding that the haze is likely to reduce from Monday as the cloud band moves north. This would also mean less rain the city.
Quyet said an environmental agency should measure dust levels in the air and assess its health impacts.
HCMC’s air quality index (AQI) is measured at 158 at 9 a.m. on September 22, 2019 by AirVisual, a Switzerland-based air quality monitoring facility that generates data from public, ground-based and real-time monitoring stations.
HCMC’s AQI level was at 158 as of Sunday afternoon. To put this alarming high in perspective, Hanoi’s AQI level also recorded at unhealthy level of 152 last Wednesday morning, making it the seventh most polluted city in the world. The tally for Hanoi at 4 p.m. Sunday was 82.
The AQI is a metric used by multiple governmental agencies to determine how polluted the air is. An AQI level above 100 is considered polluted or unhealthy for humans. Children, seniors and individuals with respiratory and heart diseases are recommended to avoid sustained and high-intensity outdoor exercises when AQI levels reach 150 or above.
AirVisual predicted that HCMC will continue to experience air pollution at orange and red levels on Monday, with orange meaning that conditions are harmful for certain groups, and red meaning conditions are harmful for everyone.
Meteorologist Quyet rejected social media speculation that the recent worsening of air pollution in Saigon and southern Vietnam was being caused by forest fires in Indonesia. He said monitoring stations indicate that the current haze was not a dry one, which would have been the case if forest fires were causing it.
Saigon’s Landmark 81 building is covered by the haze close to noon time Sunday, September 22, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
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