A recent study conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shows that air pollution in Metro Manila has gotten worse since last year.
In 2009, the total suspended particles (TSP), or solid and liquid particles suspended in the air, was measured to be at 134 micrograms (ug)/Normal cubic meters (Ncm) in Metro Manila. This was already 48 percent above the normal standard of around 90 ug/Ncm.
“In the first half of 2010, it increased to 163 ug/normal cubic meters Ncm. It’s really alarming. We are redoubling our efforts,” said Paje.
Paje identified the main pollutants as “jeepneys, buses, and tricycles,” especially those with inefficient emission systems.
The data on emissions were collected from 12 areas around Metro Manila, including EDSA (Epifanio delos Santos Avenue), España Boulevard in Manila, Taft Avenue in Pasay City, and Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City.
New limits on vehicular emissions
In an attempt to cut back air pollution, the DENR has issued new limits on vehicular emissions.
“The quality of air in Metro Manila remains not within the standard set by the government,” Paje emphasized.
“We need to bring down to a healthier level the amount of smoke and dust particles suspended in the air, and we believe that the best way to do this is to improve the emissions of motor vehicles because they contribute at least 80 percent to the pollution load,” he added.
Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2010-23 will set the numerical emission limits for passenger vehicles and light duty vehicles, and will include limit values for vehicles fitted with diesel engines of the direct injection type until January 1, 2011.
Passenger and light vehicles which will be sold in the market by January 1, 2016 will also have to comply with Euro 4 emission limits subject to Euro 4 fuel availability, to cut down on vehicles emitting high levels of carbon monoxide particulates, hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen.
“The DENR is bent on reducing by 30 percent the air pollution in Metro Manila in 2011,” said Paje. “We want to achieve a substantial improvement on air quality for the health, safety and welfare of the general public.”
More than 18 million Filipinos suffer the aggravating effects of air pollution, especially commuters and those who live by roadsides. Air pollution also costs P7.6 billion in medical bills and lost revenue every year.