Dark days are upon us – especially those of us with lungs and a desire to grow old. Hanoi’s pollution is notorious, with many newcomers to the city complaining about the rapid deterioration of their health as a direct result of the stifling air. Their grievances are sadly legitimate though as Hanoi-based Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID) confirmed that during the first quarter of the foul year 2018, Hanoi suffered 82 days of PM2.5 levels exceeding the WHO permitted levels.
These stats come the first period of the year; January through March. Throughout this period 82 of the 90 days were deemed dangerous to anyone addicted to oxygen. That’s a damning 91% of the first quarter of the year where breathing is inadvisable. Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) is the microscopic pollutant emitted from every motorbike, car and bus that you see on the congested roads of this city, but PM2.5 is also generated through industrial factories too. These are not good stats to see, especially given that the problem only seems to be intensifying.
In the same quarter last year (January – March 2017) there were only 78 days out of 90 where the PM2.5 levels were regarded as dangerous, which shows an approximate 5% increase in days where the pollution surpassed the WHO levels. It’s worth noting that, while Saigon only reached 68 days over the permitted PM2.5 levels during the same time period this year, it’s still not looking good for urban Vietnam.
Still, not quite as bleak as Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar which, despite a population of just 1.31 million – compared to 7.6 million in Hanoi or the 8.6 million in Saigon – has been declared the most polluted capital city on Earth. This smashes records set by infamously inhospitable cities such as Beijing or New Dehli and residents of Ulaanbaatar have since been turning to potential snake-oil salesmen to get a breath of fresh air.
Enter Dr. Baatar – a company offering bizarre and (kind of questionable) “oxygen-cocktails” and “lung tea” both of which the company claims can provide oxygenated relief to those struggling under the conditions of air-pollution.
Speaking with Agence France-Presse, Baatar Chantsaldulam – CEO of Dr. Baatar and charlatan-in-chief explained that first it takes all the toxins out of the blood, then it turns the toxins in the lung into mucus, and all the plants in tea helps boost the human immune system.
Despite the popularity of Dr. Baatar’s products in Mongolia, it appears to have little verified scientific legitimacy. Head of the WHO’s public health department, Maria Neira also spoke with Agence France-Presse. “The business community will offer plenty of those solutions… we don’t have any scientific evidence whether they provide any benefit.”
Whether Dr. Baatar’s herbal remedies for inhospitable pollution levels will take off in Vietnam remains to be seen, but for now it’s probably cheaper and safer to get your hands on a decent face-mask.