The Philippines joins the rest of the globe in celebrating World Environment Day on Wednesday (June 5)with a renewed commitment to fight air pollution, which is one of the leading causes of death in the country.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB)—leads this year’s local celebration that carries the theme “#BeatAirPollution.” The agency has also lined up activities for the observance of Philippine Environment Month this June.

This year’s World Environment Day and Philippine Environment Month aim to encourage people to understand air pollution, its effects on health and the environment, and to take action to make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone.

In 2018, the World Health Organization reported that air pollution is causing about 120,000 deaths in the Philippines every year, placing the country third in the world in terms of mortality rate brought about by such pollution.

Air pollution causes deaths through diseases such as lung cancer, stroke, pulmonary disease and acute respiratory infections like pneumonia.

To tackle air pollution, the Philippines—through the DENR—has been implementing Republic Act 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999, a comprehensive policy and program that aims to achieve and maintain healthy air for all Filipinos while minimizing the possible associated negative impacts on the country’s economy.

The DENR also monitors the compliance of firms and industries to the law, operationalizes the multi-agency Airshed Governing Boards across the country, and maintains air quality monitoring stations nationwide.

In celebration of the Philippine Environment Month, the EMB has launched the “Gusto Naminng MalinisnaHangin” mask challenge, where the public is urged to create and use face mask made from recyclable materials.

The face mask-making contest, which runs from May 29 to June 21, calls for entries in the form of a photo or video not exceeding 30 seconds with accompanying caption on how to reduce air pollution.

Entriesmay be submitted to the EMB Facebook page There will be ten winners who will each get an exclusive invite to the KANTALIKASAN Album launch and a gift cheque worth P1,000.

On June 27, the EMB will hold an Environment Fair in a mall in Quezon City. The whole-day event will feature ZumVironment, a free zumba session for environmental advocates and the public.

There will also be an exhibit on air pollution and health, film showing and a youth lecture/forum.

The EMB will also launch the “KANTALIKASAN” album consisting of 10 environmental songs, which won the song writing competition held last year. All songs were interpreted by the KANTALIKASAN Singing Ambassadors.

First celebrated in 1974, the World Environment Day is used as a vehicle by the United Nations to raise awareness and encourage action for the protection of the environment.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Environment Month is celebrated every June by virtue of Proclamation No. 237 issued in 1988. ###