air pollution hanoi

Air quality app disabled after receiving ‘abusive’ messages

Image credit: reuters

AirVisual, an app which records air quality in cities around the world, has disabled its services in Vietnam after a coordinated attack was launched against it following a poor rating for its capital city.

The app gives a live pollution ranking for around 90 major global cities and Hanoi has at times topped the list.

Air pollution in Hanoi and other Vietnamese cities has hit unprecedented levels, with the government’s Environment Administration last week warning people to limit outdoor activities.

Since publishing the figures, AirVisual said it “has received abusive and threatening messages posted on Facebook and on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Consequently, the AirVisual apps and Facebook page are currently no longer accessible in Vietnam.” It said the attacks were “unfair” and that it was working with the tech firms to try and reinstate the app in Vietnam.

Pollution could become a key political issue in the Southeast Asian country, where protests have been held against the degradation of the environment.

The app had been among the most downloaded in Vietnam, and was even topping Apple’s App Store prior to its removal.

According to Reuters, Vietnamese Facebook user Vu Khac Ngoc (an online chemistry teacher with almost 350,000 followers) said that AirVisual was manipulating its data in order to sell air purifiers made by its parent company, IQair. He did not offer any evidence to back up the claim but was also concerned that the data could negatively impact Vietnamese tourism.

“Our millions of air quality data contributors and community members have always strongly supported our mission to raise awareness of air pollution around the world, and we would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the people in Vietnam who have taken the time to share with us their kind support during this time,” AirVisual said.

The government last week blamed the pollution on low rain levels and farmers burning rice crop remnants after the harvest to prepare for new plantings. Coal is also widely used for power generation in the country.

The top 10 most polluted cities on AirVisual includes eight from Asian countries. Tashkent in Uzbekistan is currently at the top, alongside several Chinese cities. Large Indian cities, including Mumbai and Delhi, round out the top 20.

In June the Indian Government mandated that ride-sharing services such as Uber and Ola will need to convert at least 40 per cent of their car fleet to electric vehicles by 2026 in India to help tackle air pollution. 

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