MANILA — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Monday identified the emission from vehicles as the primary source of haze or smog that engulfed Metro Manila the last couple of days.
This, as state weather bureau PAGASA and PHIVOLCS both said that the volcanic smog emitted by Taal Volcano cannot be blamed for the noticeably obscured Metro Manila skyline.
DENR Undersecretary Gilbert Gonzales told ABS-CBN News that pollution from vehicles has always been the number one cause of pollution based on historical data.
“Wala naman kaming ibang pwedeng i-attribute doon but coming from the cumulative emissions coming from motor vehicles. Two major sources lang naman natin: yung industries and motor vehicles. Since motor vehicles have a higher percentage as a source, so most likely lalo na grabe yung traffic during the previous days before we observed the haze,” he said.
According to the DENR’s Historical Emission Inventory, from 2006 up to 2018, motor vehicles have consistently held the highest percentage of emission compared to factories and domestic burning among other things.
The inventory, conducted every three years, reveals an upward trend in the amount of vehicular emissions. From just 5 million tons in 2006, the amount has almost tripled at 14 million tons.
Better air quality
While the torrential rainfall that drowned some parts of Metro Manila over the weekend caused disruption, it has also contributed to decreasing the haze. The same can be said by another heavy rainfall that occurred Monday morning.
“Usually kasi yung mga nakakatulong para mag clear yung haze o smog, usually hangin o pag ulan. So kung malakas ang hangin, parang nag-scatter sila. Kunwari may usok, pag umuulan parang nag-scatter siya, unti-unti na rin siyang nadi-disperse o nawawala,” said PAGASA weather specialist Veronica Torres.
DENR’s real-time air quality monitoring dashboard has also pointed to better air quality on Monday, compared to last week.
As of 4 p.m., all stations that transmit data have recorded “good” air quality for PM2.5. These include Caloocan, Makati, Paranaque, and Pateros. The same areas, as well as San Juan and Taguig, have also logged “good” air quality.
It is, however, noticeable that all other cities in Metro Manila are reading “Offline” or “No Station”. The DENR explains that while these areas have the necessary equipment to monitor air quality, they need “calibration and maintenance”.
“They’re not just functioning efficiently right now. Pero we’re now working on papalitan agad yung mga equipment para makumpleto natin yung what we’re covering in Metro Manila,” Gonzales said.
“We’ve always been proposing for the last 5 to 6 years para ma-upgrade na and madagdagan natin. Unfortunately, hindi tayo nabibigyan ng sufficient budget so we’re just maintaining na lang what we have. Kaya lang siyempre over time may mga hindi na talaga magfu-function efficiently kaya ino-offline na lang namin.”
The agency estimates an P5 to 10 million is needed for each air quality monitoring set up.
With the continuous use of motor vehicles, the agency advises the public to make conscious efforts to reduce emission by employing carpool set ups or just completely foregoing travel if it isn’t necessary.
Exposure to pollution is seen to cause or trigger existing respiratory illnesses like asthma.
Prolonged exposure can even pose serious health threats.
Experts therefore advise the public to wear masks to minimize the inhalation of particulate matter.