The air is so thick with dust in Thanh Xuan, on the outskirts of Hanoi, that it has sparked a local cottage industry: eyeglass vendors. Every few metres alongside Khuat Duy Tien Street there is a mat strewn with a few dozen models, mostly sunglasses. Middle-aged women tend the goods, trying to flag down the minority of passing motorcyclists not already wearing full face protection. It is a scene being played out with increasing frequency in Vietnam's two major cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Fast-paced industrialisation is clogging the air with the dirt and dust from widespread construction, as well as the exhaust from swelling numbers of motorbikes and cars. State media report thousands of respiratory illnesses in each city every year, as pollutant counts reach three to seven times the regulated maximum. In Thanh Xuan, locals said the problem had become noticeably worse in the past few years. Trucks bearing uncovered loads of sand rumble down Khuat Duy Tien every 60 seconds or so, heading for construction sites. One grocery shop owner said her family's children were now staying elsewhere with relatives to escape the dirty air. 'Sometimes it looks like foggy weather outside,' said the woman, who declined to give her name. Degraded roads, an ageing automobile fleet and factories with insufficient pollution controls are also contributing to the haze. And while Vietnam's air pollution woes are not yet considered as serious as those of some of its more developed Asian neighbours, the Vietnamese government plans to spend the equivalent of 1 per cent of GDP next year on anti-pollution efforts. The plans include 'thoroughly handling' the 4,295 factories and other urban properties identified as polluters. Both cities are upgrading public transit. And as for construction-related pollution, Hanoi authorities are taking action against about 150 offending trucks and building sites a month. The trouble now is that the city is running out of storage space for all the seized construction materials. 'Because of the current intense urbanisation, it's not easy,' Hanoi city official Nguyen Hoang Giap said.