Wednesday, April 3, 2013



Sunday, 31 March 2013 00:00

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) took an important step to protect the health of Filipinos from particle pollution by setting the air quality standard for particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller, or commonly known as PM2.5.
PM2.5 is a fine particle found in smoke and haze, and can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires or they can form when gases emitted from power plants, industries and vehicles react in the air. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health problems.

DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje recently issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2013-13 setting the National Ambient Air Quality Guideline Value (NAAQGV) for PM2.5 at 75 micrograms per normal cubic meter (µg/Ncm) for an average of 24 hours or short term, and 35 µg/Ncm for an average of one year or long term, starting from the DAO’s effectivity until Dec. 31, 2015.
The DAO also provides tougher standards after 2015. Effective Jan. 1, 2016, the NAAQGV for the short and long terms will be at 50 and 25 µg/Ncm, respectively.
Paje said the standards for PM2.5 were issued in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 8749, or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.
“This administrative order was anchored on the basic right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthy ecology, as well as the government’s policy to maintain a balance between development and environmental protection,” Paje explained.
He, however, clarified that the DAO was not for compliance purposes, but to set standard values in evaluating the quality of outdoor air in a surrounding environment, also known as ambient air.
“These values are established in the same way that we have established standards for total suspended particulates (TSP) and PM10. These will help us determine which actions to take vis-à-vis the impact of air pollution on our health,” he explained.
Technical personnel of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) will conduct sampling periodically using manual methods, or continuously using automatic real-time ambient monitors.
Compared to TSP and PM10, PM2.5 pollutants are of finer particles usually emitted by vehicles and burning plants. Their small size allows them to stay in the air longer and travel farther, and can pass through the body’s smaller airways deeper into the lungs, leading to respiratory and circulatory diseases, cancers and brain damage. #

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