DENR: Metro Manila pollution soars to hazard levels with firecrackers smoke

Air pollution in Metro Manila reached "dangerous levels" at the height of the celebration welcoming the New Year, prompting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to ask Congress to pass stricter laws regulating the use of firecrackers and fireworks.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said it is about time lawmakers review Republic Act No. 7183, or the law regulating the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers; and make it consistent with the Philippine Clean Air Act, which aims to protect Filipinos from harmful effects of air pollution.

He added that a law banning firecrackers would prevent air pollution to reach levels considered as hazardous to human health and the environment during New Year revelry.

“The air pollution data we have gathered through the years already beg for a radical solution, and I believe Congress can provide for that,” Paje said, noting that air pollution in Metro Manila gets worse during New Year celebrations and this is due to firecrackers and fireworks set off by residents.

Initial readings from air quality monitoring stations across Metro Manila suggested that Thursday's pollution has soared to hazard levels, according to a report by the DENR's Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

Results obtained from a monitoring station in Marikina City showed that PM 10 with diameter of 10 micrometers or less was measured at 1,988 micrograms per normal cubic meter from 12 midnight to 1 a.m. of January 1, 2015, from a low of 35 recorded at 7 a.m. on December 31, 2014.

From the same monitoring station during the same period, the PM 2.5 with diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less was measured at 1,978 from 36.

Among the monitoring stations that readily had results, the one located in Las Pinas recorded the highest PM 10 reading at 2,000, while its PM2.5 was 1,342.

The National Ambient Guideline Value for PM10 is 60 microgram per normal cubic meter and PM2.5 is 35.

Paje warned that once inhaled, these tiny particles can cause respiratory infections, as well as increased mortality from lung cancer and heart disease.

Based on the standards set by the World Health Organization, air is unhealthy above 100 micrograms. At 300, all children and the elderly should remain indoors.

The PM 10 readings from other monitoring stations are as follows: Navotas, 360; Commonwealth-Quezon City, 359; Malabon, 276; De La Salle Taft-Manila, 195; and Valenzuela City, 196.

The PM2.5 readings are Navotas, 295; Commonwealth-Quezon City, 349; Malabon, 236; De La Salle Taft-Manila, 123 and Valenzuela City, 166. ###