HomeNewsPeople-led initiative seeks to address lack of air quality monitoring

People-led initiative seeks to address lack of air quality monitoring

Greenpeace says air pollution remains one of the biggest threats to the country’s health, environment, and economy

A people-led air pollution monitoring initiative seeking to help improve the country’s air quality monitoring capacity is now in the works.

Through the initiative, Greenpeace Philippines, supported by the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), has rolled out efforts to install up to 28 air quality monitoring devices in Metro Manila cities and in communities affected by coal plants outside the capital.

“Air pollution remains one of the biggest threats to the country’s health, environment, and economy. But sadly, current measures to monitor, regulate and control air pollution are lacking,” said Greenpeace campaigner Khevin Yu.

“Improved monitoring will not only expose air pollution levels, but will also inform decisions to counter the increase of pollution due to reopening of the economy, especially in the energy and transport sectors — a crucial step to ensuring a green and just recovery,” he said in a statement.

The group has secured the collaboration of the Philippine Social Science Center and is currently finalizing partnerships with the cities of Quezon, San Juan, and Cebu to provide the capacity to monitor toxic pollutants.

The group said pollutants, such as nitrous oxide, particulate matter (PM) 10, and PM2.5, can cause over 27,000 premature deaths in the Philippines and up to 1.9% GDP losses annually.

PMCJ has already installed two devices in Toledo City, in Cebu, the first units in the area that can provide publicly available data.

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The group also eyes partnerships with other Metro Manila cities like Manila, Pasig, and Marikina, as well as areas near coal power plants such as Bataan, Pangasinan, Quezon Province, and Davao.

“The first step to protecting our people from the ill-effects of air pollution is to ensure that we are protected from the air we breathe,” said Ian Rivera, national coordinator of PMCJ.

“With this people-led initiative, we call on the government to follow through with stringent measures to address air pollution, which will continue to pose threats to our communities,” he added.

At present, the government only has 155 monitoring stations. Out of this number, only 55 are capable of monitoring PM2.5 pollutants, while some are not strategically located in areas with high PM2.5 concentrations, such as major highways and coal plants.

Aside from the installation of the air quality monitoring devices, the initiative also involves partnerships with academic institutions and community organizations to make the data publicly available.

The groups are also calling on the government, specifically the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to conduct a review of standards for stationary sources every two years, a requirement under the Clean Air Act.

Records show that National Emission Standards for Source-Specific Air Pollutants have not been updated since they were set in 1999.

Aside from monitoring, pro-environment groups said the government must also raise stringent standards to control emissions from coal power plants, invest in low-carbon transport, and transition to renewable energy sources to reduce air pollution.

The country’s Clean Air Act recently marked 22 years since it was signed into law.

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