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Air Pollution in Saigon, Hanoi Reduces Noticeably During Social Distancing Period

In addition to allowing people to finish all of their puzzles and amass Animal Crossing playing time, Vietnam's social distancing campaign has led to air quality improvements in major cities.

VnExpress reports that the Vietnam Environmental Administration (VEA) analyzed data from March 20 to April 10 and found that air quality was better than the previous two months. The official social distancing order came into force on April 1, though in some areas, residents have taken the initiative to reduce going outside earlier than that.

In Saigon, the VEA found that daily PM2.5 levels during that time period averaged below 20 micrograms per cubic meter, compared to 40–60 micrograms per cubic meter in January and February. Hanoi's PM2.5 levels, meanwhile, dropped as well from March 20 to April 10.

PM2.5 are super fine particles released from vehicles, industrial activities and other sources, and are hazardous to human health. The World Health Organization recommends 10 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 in annual mean exposure for humans.

VEA also looked at the levels of carbon monoxide, a common byproduct of traffic emission in urban areas, in Hanoi, and found that the daily levels of the gas were much lower in the period from the last half of March until now than in January and February.

Apart from urging citizens to cut unnecessary trips, to reduce Covid-19 spread, authorities in Saigon and Hanoi have suspended taxi and car-based ride-hailing operations, in addition to halting city and intercity bus networks. Railway and air travel options have also been significantly reduced.

"It shows that sources of emission like traffic and production had considerably influenced urban air quality," the news source quotes the VEA as saying. "Social distancing measures, which led to reduced or suspended production, traffic and construction, helped improve air quality."

At the time of writing (April 20), the AQI reading in central Saigon was 58 according to AirVisual, while Hanoi's reading was 99, both in the "moderate" category.  

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