As part of the continuous upgrading of the air quality monitoring in Metro Manila, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) opens its fourth station at the grounds of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in EDSA.

The installation of real time ambient air quality monitoring equipment forms part of the priority programs of DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, who aims to bring down concentrations of Total Suspended Particulates (TSP) along with other air pollutants to healthy levels.

Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Juan Miguel Cuna said the newly-acquired air quality monitoring equipment is capable of measuring criteria pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene and xylene as well as meteorological data.

“Improved monitoring means better air quality data. The more data we have, the more we are capable of drafting effective policies against air pollution. We are hoping that we could set more not just in Metro Manila but also in other urban centers of the country,” he said.

At present, the EMB updates its monitoring of total suspended particulates (TSP), which has significantly dropped from 166 µg/Ncm (micrograms per normal cubic meter) at the second quarter of 2010 to 120µg/Ncm for the same period this year. It even went down to an average of 116 µg/Ncm for the third quarter of 2011.

Cuna stressed the need for more intervention to achieve the healthy guideline value of 90 µg/Ncm. This includes the enhancement of anti-smoke belching operations in Metro Manila; the adoption of more stringent emission standards for all types of motor vehicles; and stricter monitoring of private emission testing centers and motor vehicle inspection centers with the use of closed-circuit television or CCTV cameras.

The other three stations were set up at the De La Salle University in Taft Avenue, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela in Valenzuela City, and the Commonwealth Avenue Station. Data collected from the stations will be used for air quality management, traffic and land-use purposes, determining exposure and advancing studies on health, vegetation or building materials, all in line with DENR’s Clean Air Program.