New Year’s Eve air pollution levels down — DENR
MANILA, Philippines — The air pollution levels on New Year’s Eve were lower compared to that of 2020.
According to a post-New Year celebration report from the Department on Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), air pollution was cut by as much as 59 percent — which Secretary Roy Cimatu attributed to the effective implementation of existing regulations on firecracker use.
With the ban on firecracker use on orders by President Rodrigo Duterte, Metro Manila mayors have also agreed to ban firecrackers to avoid people from gathering outside and possibly spread the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The DENR was able to record an average of 87 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) of particulate matter-10 (PM10), or fine particles and pollutants measuring 10 micrometers or smaller which may be inhaled by humans.
If inhaled, PM10 is believed to be associated with pulmonary diseases and ailments, with some saying it can even cause lung-related cancers.
During the New Year’s Eve celebration in 2019, the average was at 213 ug/Ncm, the DENR said.
“An average concentration of 87 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) of Particulate Matter (PM 10) was obtained by DENR-Environmental Management based on the measured data between 12 midnight of December 31, 2020 to January 1, 2021 from its six air quality monitoring stations (AQMS) in Caloocan, Marikina, Navotas, Pasig, Parañaque and Taguig cities,” the DENR said.
“Last year, the six AQMS yielded an average of 213 ug/Ncm, thereby accounting for a 59-average percent drop compared to its New Year’s Eve (NYE) data on January 1, 2020,” it added.
The DENR said the short-term limit for PM10 concentration is at 150 ug/Ncm, under Republic Act No. 8749 or the Clean Air Act.
All but one DENR station — the Don Bosco Barangay Hall station in Parañaque City — recorded a drop in PM10 concentrations:
Naval St., Navotas City (99 percent drop, from 209 to 1.34 ug/Ncm)
Oranbo, Pasig City (95 percent drop, from 130 to 7 ug/Ncm)
Bicutan, Taguig City (78 percent drop, from 355 to 79 ug/Ncm)
Marikina Justice Hall open compound (34 percent drop, from 189 to 124 ug/Ncm)
Caloocan City Hall Annex (29 percent drop, from 332 to 235 ug/Ncm)
Don Bosco Barangay Hall, Paranaque City (21 percent increase, from 62 to 75 ug/Ncm)
The DENR said PM10 in firecrackers comes mainly from the residues of the “explosive powders wrapped in paper which consists of a mixture of sulfur (S), carbon (C), and potassium nitrate (saltpeter, KNO3) and other fine minerals which contains heavy metals.”
The DENR added that air pollution based on the concentrations of particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) — an even finer particle than PM10 — also went down. However, they were able to record a high of 93.5 ug/Ncm of PM2.5 at the Manila City station around 1:00 a.m. on January 1.
This surpasses the short-term limit for PM2.5, which was set at 35 ug/Ncm as per the DENR’s Administrative Order 2020-14 issued last October.
“The NYE 2021 have significantly lower concentrations of PM2.5 compared to the NYE 2020, particularly for its station at the Muntinlupa Bilibid open ground in Muntinlupa City which posted a maximum concentration of 12 ug/Ncm between 12 midnight to 2 AM of January 1, 2021,” DENR said.
“The reading accounts for a 43-percent drop from 22 ug/Ncm obtained for the same period in last year. The report however noted its Manila City Station measured a high of 93.5 ug/Ncm around 1 AM of January 1, 2021, from a reading of 40.9 ug/Ncm at 11 pm of December 31, 2020,” it added.
Cimatu said the improving air conditions prove that the Duterte administration is serious about protecting the environment.
“This attests to the correctness of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s interest to put a nationwide total ban on firecrackers which I believe clearly speaks not only for the President’s strong policy agenda for health and safety but for sound environmental governance as well,” Cimatu said.
“These are (also) attributed to ‘the strict measures being implemented’ by Metro Manila Mayors under Metro Manila Development Authority Resolution No. 20-17 ‘Prohibiting Individual and Household Use of Firecrackers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices During General Community Quarantine’,” the DENR added.
Earlier, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) also noted that no fire incidents in Metro Manila were caused by pyrotechnics or fireworks and firecrackers, saying that they owe it to BFP personnel, fire volunteers, police officers, local government units, and communities that strived to prevent firecracker-related fires.
The Department of Health also noted a decrease in firecracker-related injuries as only 55 incidents were recorded around Metro Manila on New Year’s Eve.
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