Source: Vientiane Times
The recent average reading in Vientiane of fine particulate matter in the air, or PM2.5, was found to be in concentrations between 60 and 64.8 μg/m3, mostly in Sikhottabong and Chanthabouly districts.
Despite the discrepancies between districts, Vientiane remains as its own entity, which gives it a ‘moderate’ rating according to the Air Quality Index published by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which according to the stringent standards of measurement, is any number between 12.1 and 35.4μg/m3.
However, Vientiane is capable of becoming rapidly more polluted very quickly, and both locals and visitors should keep an eye on the air quality index rating, especially if they suffer from any kind of lung condition.
Despite the readings classifying air pollution in Vientiane as moderate, there are times when it crosses rapidly over this line to significantly worse pollution with hazardous levels of PM2.5 and other contaminants found lingering in the air.
The reasons for the high PM2.5 readings may be directly linked to seasonal influences, with the rainy season start slow. The rain cleanses the air as it naturally pulls fine particulate matter and other pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide out of the air.
With the city continuing to be blanketed in haze, the Ministry of Health has warned pregnant women in particular to avoid high exposure to PM2.5 and other air pollutants, as scientific evidence suggests that exposure to air pollution while pregnant is linked to babies being born with low birth weights.
Everyone should seek to limit their exposure to bad air, both indoors and outdoors. This is because in the long term, exposure to PM2.5 increases the risk in later life of developing diseases such as cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The Ministry of Health has also expressed concern for other vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly, as well as those suffering from chronic illnesses such as respiratory diseases (asthma and pneumonia), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, and disorders of the immune system. There are many things that factor into pollution levels in Vientiane. The exhaust fumes from automobiles are among them, in addition to the widespread burning of plants and other organic matter.
Reducing the burning of domestic and agricultural waste can help reduce the harmful emissions that are changing our rainfall patterns as well as making our planet and Laos hotter.