The thick fog has spread across the city, covering iconic towers like Landmark 81, Vietnam’s tallest building with 81 floors, and 68-floor Bitexco tower in downtown area. These towering buildings are not visible from just 300 meters away. Drivers’ vision has also been affected by the fog.
A view from Thu Thiem Bridge in District 2 shows a thick fog pervading the city center on the morning of September 22, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen.
The phenomenon has been caused by the 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, according to Le Dinh Quyet, deputy head of Forecasting Department of Meteorological and Hydrological Station for the southern region. Daytime temperatures are low, leading to high level of humidity and formation of the fog, he said.
“The phenomenon also shows air pollution and high dust levels in the air,” Quyet said, adding that the fog will die out tomorrow when the cloud band moves north. This also means there will be less rain in HCMC after.”
He emphasized that a government agency should accurately measure the dust level in the air and assess the extent of harm it can cause.
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 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.
Meanwhile, social media has been circulating posts stating that air pollution in Saigon and southern Vietnam at the moment is caused by forest fires in Indonesia.
Quyet of the Southern Meteorological and Hydrological Station said this argument has no grounds because if the cause is indeed the forest fires in Indonesia, Vietnam would have experienced dry fog, but monitoring stations show this is not the case.
Landmark 81 building is covered by dense fog close to noon on September 22, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
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