A deputy of Vietnam’s environmental administration confirmed on Tuesday that there was no evidence of mercury pollution in Hanoi, following public confusion over an earlier news article claiming otherwise.
Hoang Duong Tung, deputy general director at the Vietnam Environmental Administration under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, denied yesterday morning having said that mercury had been found floating in the air above the capital city.
Earlier, a local newswire had cited Tung as saying monitoring equipment had recorded levels of mercury in the air over the locality.
According to Tung, the news was inaccurate and was a misunderstanding of what he had intended to say.
After receiving observational information from the U.S. Embassy about particle pollution in Hanoi, Tung explained, he had said that mercury pollution was an emerging problem that the world and Vietnam were at risk of exposure to.
“I confirm that no observation result has found mercury floating in the air, and thus there is no warning about the issue,” Tung underlined.
Nguyen Kim Son, former deputy director at the Poison Control Center of Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, said mercury can appear in the air as a result of the greenhouse effect, industrial wastes, automobile emission, and others.
According to Son, mercury, or quicksilver, is a heavy metal that can cause adverse health effects in humans.
If found in the air, Son said, mercury could lead to different levels of intoxication in humans depending on its concentration, with reactions in severe cases including respiratory irritation, shortness of breath, or adverse skin conditions.
“About the particle pollution in Hanoi observed by the U.S. Embassy, it usually occurs during rush hours. Therefore, my advice is to pay attention to weather forecasts, avoid dusty areas, wear face masks when going out, turn off your vehicle’s engine when stopping at red lights for more than 15 seconds, and stop burning thatches in the open air,” Tung said.
Earlier, an air quality reading on March 5 by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi had recorded a ‘hazardous’ air quality index at one point during the day, causing concern among local residents.