Honking and loud music worsen noise pollution in HCM City

HO CHI MINH CITY - Noise pollution in urban areas, mostly caused by traffic, factories and construction sites, has become more severe in recent years, affecting the quality of life.

As the number of cars and motorbikes has increased in HCM City, the honking habits of drivers and noise from vehicles have both contributed to the noise levels.

Loud music from bars, restaurants and stores has also become disruptive, with owners often blasting out promotional music at ear-piercing levels, sometimes to midnight.

Nguyễn Thị Thùy, a resident living on Điện Biên Phủ Street in HCM City's District 1, said she had often lost sleep because of noise in the neighbourhood.

"I've installed soundproof windows and walls, but they are still useless," she said.

Nguyễn Vĩnh An, a resident from Bình Thạnh District, said dust and noise pollution had affected his son's ability to study and his mother's sleep and health.

According to national standards issued in 2010, the noise level limit for special areas like hospitals and schools has reached a decibel level of 55dBA and 45dBA from 6am-9pm and 9pm-6am, respectively. The figure for residential areas is 70dBA and 55dBA.

In May, HCM City reported that noise at eight traffic points exceeded the national standard, reaching 70-83.5 dBA.

According to the report, people living or working near noisy places are susceptible to neurological diseases, headaches, difficulty in concentrating, and higher anxiety levels.

Under current regulations, noise pollution levels are subject to fines of up to VNĐ160 million (S$9,573) for individuals and VNĐ320 million for organisations.

Violators can also be required to suspend operations for three months to a year, depending on the severity of their infringement.

However, enforcement has been difficult as the city has more than 8 million registered vehicles, according to Võ Khánh Hưng, deputy director of the city's Department of Transport.

Phùng Chí Sỹ, deputy secretary general of the Việt Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, said that owners should schedule periodic maintenance of their vehicles and the city should plant more trees.