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Social Issues

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For the past several decades, increasing industrialization and modernization have been occurring in the Philippines. This is part of the reason why we are experiencing air quality degradation in the country today. With the Clean Air Act, we have a comprehensive policy-planning tool for air quality management. The Clean Air Act is the guiding framework in the effective implementation of air quality management interventions and programs. Since it took effect in 1999, air quality has somewhat improved in parts of the country as monitored by the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The publication of this National Air Quality Status Report is required by Part V, Rule XIV, Section 4 of the Clean Air Act. The report reviews the status of the air quality in the country, with emphasis on key cities such as Metro Manila. The air quality status report summarizes the extent of air pollution in the country, per type of pollutant and per type of source. It includes an analysis of the current situation and identifies trends in air pollution. It identifies critical areas, activities or projects which need closer monitoring or regulation. Other pertinent qualitative and quantitative information concerning the extent of air pollution and the air quality performance rating of industries in the country are also included. Finally, recommendations are also proposed, highlighting areas or necessary executive and legislative action. The report is intended to be a reference document for stakeholders and the public, to provide a common knowledge base for our concerted effort to further improve Philippine air quality. Each Filipino shares the air as a common resource and life support, so each should be well aware of the quality of this air. We all have a stake in improving the quality of air that we breathe.





The moment you step out of the house and are on the road you can actually see the air getting polluted.A cloud of smoke from the exhaust of a bus, car, or a scooter; smoke billowing from a factory chimney, flyash generated by thermal power plants, and speeding cars causing dust to rise from the roads. Natural phenomena such as the eruption of a volcano and even someone smoking a cigarette can also cause air pollution.

Air pollution is aggravated because of four developments: increasing traffic, growing cities, rapid economic development, and industrialization. The Industrial Revolution in Europe in the 19th century saw the beginning of air pollution as we know it today, which has gradually become a global problem.


Air Pollution is cause by air pollutants. The most common air pollutants in the Philippines are classified under the following categories: solids and metals, sulfur compounds, nitrogen compounds, volatile organic compounds (VOC), oxygen compounds, halogen compounds, radioactive compounds, odors, and others. The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) currently monitors only what are called "criteria pollutants"- air pollutants for which National Ambient Air Quality Guideline Values have been established- for the protection of public health, safety, and general welfare. These include total suspended particulate (TSP), particulate matter with a diameter of 10 microns and smaller (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), lead (Pb), and ozone (O3).



Air pollution can affect our health in many ways with both short-term and long-term effects. Different groups of individuals are affected by air pollution in different ways. Some individuals are much more sensitive to pollutants than are others. Young children and elderly people often suffer more from the effects of air pollution. People with health problems such as asthma, heart and lung disease may also suffer more when the air is polluted. The extent to which an individual is harmed by air pollution usually depends on the total exposure to the damaging chemicals, i.e., the duration of exposure and the concentration of the chemicals must be taken into account.

Examples of short-term effects include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Other symptoms can include headaches, nausea, and allergic reactions. Short-term air pollution can aggravate the medical conditions of individuals with asthma and emphysema.

Long-term health effects can include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. Continual exposure to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the elderly.

Research into the health effects of air pollution is ongoing. Medical conditions arising from air pollution can be very expensive. Healthcare costs, lost productivity in the workplace, and human welfare impacts cost billions of pesos each year.




Despite the numerous interventions implemented and enforced by the government, together with non-government organizations (NGOs), private entities, and people's organizations, air quality in the Philippines today remains threatened, especially in key urban centers. While some improvements have been recorded since the Philippine Clean Air Act was first implemented, an intensive public campaign and the strict enforcement of the Act's implementing rules and regulations should be pursued further.

At stake are the health and productivity of the country's people and environment. The Air Quality Management Section (AQMS) of the Central Office and the Environmental Quality Monitoring Sections of the regional offices of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) monitor air quality nationwide. Criteria pollutants monitored are total suspended particulates (TSP),particulate matter, with a diameter of 10 microns or smaller (PM10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO) and lead (Pb). The only air pollutant that has been consistently



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