DENR, Unioil to install more air quality monitoring stations in MM

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has partnered with independent oil player Unioil Petroleum Philippines to install additional state-of-the-art air quality monitoring stations (AQMS) across Metro Manila.

A memorandum of agreement (MOA) was recently signed between the DENR and Unioil to formalize the partnership, which Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones described as a “first of its kind.”

This marks the DENR’s first partnership with a private company in terms of monitoring air pollution, which has been a major challenge to the agency.

“This is the first time that an industry, as big as Unioil, is now helping the department in addressing this kind of problem,” Leones said, as he welcomed the oil company’s support in behalf of the DENR.

Leones expressed hope other private firms would soon follow suit. “Air quality is not only the concern of the government; it is the concern of each and every one to address this major environmental problem,” he added.

At present, all 17 cities and municipality in Metro Manila have at least one AQMS.

The AQMS to be installed under the DENR-Unioil accord will use state-of-the-art equipment or sensors powered by AirVisual application, which has been described as the world’s smartest air quality monitor that help track, foresee and take action against invisible threats in the air.

The equipment can measure levels of particulate matter (PM) 2..5 or particle pollution less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and carbon dioxide, as well as temperature and humidity. The collected data will be transmitted live to the web and later to the central server of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau.

PM2.5 is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that get into the air. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health problems. Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is a greenhouse gas that traps heat and warms the planet, thus contributing to climate change.

As a pioneer of Euro 5-compliant fuel in the country, Unioil said its clean air efforts would be meaningless if air pollution will not be measured accurately.

Since 2016, Unioil has installed AirVisual-powered AQMS in 27 locations all over the country.

“With the signing of the MOA with DENR, Unioil will further expand the installation of AQM stations in full support of its programs,” said Unioil president Kenneth Pundanera.

The EMB is set to identify the locations for the additional AQMS. Installation and operation of the equipment and training of EMB personnel for its use will be shouldered by the Unioil and at no cost to the government.

“We are very proud to offer DENR live data from our active air quality monitoring stations through the signing of this MOA,” Pundanera said.

Yann Boquillod, founder and chair of AirVisual said that the equipment uses laser-based technology that is much cheaper compared to other technology.

“You can know real time and with major precision the source of pollution, such as factories,” Boquillod said. “The idea of the technology is to go at different types of measurement using laser and to get valuable and meaningful data for the people.

The laser beam can measure the size of the particle that goes in front of the beam like PM 2.5 or 10, and can determine the pollution level.

“It is very important to create awareness and awareness comes from data. Air Visual builds the system to create that awareness,” Boquillod added.

The MOA signing was witnessed by EMB Air Quality Monitoring Division chief Jerry Capulong, and Clean Air Philippines Movement Inc. (CAPMI) chair Dr. Michael Aragon and president Manuel Galvez.

November is “Clean Air Month Through National Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Consciousness” pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 1109 of 1997. ###