In a move to reduce the volume of air pollution brought about by massive use of firecrackers and fireworks, Environment and Natural Resources Ramon J. P. Paje turns on parents and grandparents to support the call for “no fireworks, firecrackers” in the forthcoming New Year’s celebration.
“Air pollution is a health hazard. Our health department has been very vocal about it that it particularly impact on our children and senior citizens because of their fragile health condition. This is the reason why I am calling on parents and grandparents for their support because in our culture, we always accede to the wisdom and “pakiusap” of our parents and grandparents,” Paje said.
At the same time, he also called on vehicle owners to take advantage of the holidays to have their engines tuned up not only in preparation for next year’s vehicle registration but also to bring down the contribution of vehicles to air pollution.
Paje made the call as he announced the operationalization of an automatic air quality monitoring station in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, the third to be established this year which is capable of monitoring in real time pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene and xylene.
The first two were installed near the De La Salle University in Taft, Manila and at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela in Valenzuela City. Another one will be set up early next year along EDSA near the office of the Department of Public Works and Highways, also in Quezon City.
Leading the launching of the air monitoring station in Commonwealth, Quezon City last week were Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Juan Miguel Cuna, representing DENR Secretary Ramon Paje.
“These stations will provide us not only with timely information on the state of air quality in the vicinity but also some meteorological data like wind speed and wind direction which are useful inputs to strengthen our air quality management program,” Paje said.
Aside from the four fully automatic stations, whose readings can be gathered and analyzed online and in real time, the DENR has nine manual monitoring stations set up throughout Metro Manila to measure TSP levels. All stations are maintained and monitored by EMB personnel.
According to the DENR chief, current inter-agency efforts like the anti-smoke belching operations and the closer monitoring of private emission testing centers have contributed in improving the air quality in the metropolis. This is evidenced by the decline in the level of total suspended particulates (TSP) in the metropolis, from an average of 166 micrograms per normal cubic meter (μg/Ncm) at the end of the second quarter of 2010 to 116 μg/Ncm as of the third quarter of 2011.
But still, Paje emphasized that these levels are still beyond the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 90 μg/Ncm.
DENR data indicates that 80 percent of air pollution in urban centers comes from motor vehicles, with industries and other stationary sources contributing at least 20 percent. However, Paje explained that air pollution also gets worsened as well during the year-end holidays due to massive use of fireworks by the people to welcome the new year.
Relative to this, he reiterated his call on the public to make use of other environment-friendly alternatives in their New Year revelry. “If we need to go back to how our grandparents welcome the New Year, why not,” Paje stressed.
Among the traditional yet environment-friendly merry-making activities of yesteryears that Paje suggested include the banging of batya or planggana, biking around the neighborhood with the bikes tailed with used cans, torotot, sounding of police sirens as they goes around checking on the neighborhood, ringing of church bells, etc.
Paje said that breathing clean air is a basic human right that the government must ensure, but that right must be responded with equal responsibility among the citizenry to do their share in the effort.
“I suppose this is going to be the smartest way to start the new year, and the most doable and sustainable New Year’s resolution one can ever have,” Paje said. PAO-DENR