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Vietnam Ranks 131 of 180 Countries on 2016 Environmental Protection Index

Every year, American university Yale releases its Environmental Protection Index (EPI), rating the ability of individual nations to protect both human health and the ecosystem. In 2016, the numbers don't look great for Vietnam.

Yale's EPI 2016 results rank Vietnam 131 out of 180 nations, bumping the country up five spots from last year's report.

However, while Vietnam managed to remain ahead of its neighbors Laos (148) and Cambodia (146), Yale researchers found the country's performance was worse than the regional average. Other Southeast Asian nations ranking above Vietnam include Thailand (91), Malaysia (63) and Singapore (14).

Among the many issues analyzed by EPI researchers, Vietnam appeared to struggle in two areas: fisheries management and tropical forest loss. The 2016 EPI report noted the strain put upon Vietnam's waters due to overfishing as well as an accelerated rate of deforestation in several tropical countries around the world, including Vietnam.

“Overall, tropical forests [globally] lost 9.9 million hectares of tree cover in 2014, an area large enough to blanket South Korea with room to spare,” says the report.

Beyond individual country rankings, the 2016 EPI also pointed out a few chilling findings, such as the fact that more deaths worldwide are the result of poor air quality than of water. According to the report, half the world's population – over 3.5 billion people – also lives in countries with unsafe levels of air pollution.

Saigon is, of course, no exception. Late last year, officials reported the city's air quality index (AQI) was increasing at an alarming rate. In October 2015, District 7's air only registered as healthy on two days out of the entire month.

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