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Air Pollution Spiked in QC Following New Years Eve Fireworks

By Paul Ezekiel Losaria


Air quality readings during the first two to three hours of Jan. 1 spiked to very poor level in two air monitoring stations in Quezon City. Following New Years Eve fireworks particulate matters (PM) in the air rose to unsafe levels. These readings are reported in a smartphone app run by the Rotary Club of Makati with technical advice provided by the University of the Philippines-Diliman Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP-IESM).

Per WHO, air readings above 50 ug/m3 of PM10 and 25 ug/m3 of PM 2.5 are beyond the 24-hr guideline values. Per US EPA, PM2.5 values above 55 ug/m3 are considered unhealthy; above 250 ug/m3 hazardous.

Just like in previous years, as the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve, air quality at the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) station in Quezon City recorded the highest reading at 1:00 am on the first day of 2020, with 122 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3) for PM10 and 117 ug/m3 for PM2.5. Both readings are beyond the safe guidelines set by the WHO.


Chart of PM2.5 before, during and after NYE in Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) station

Air pollution during the hours after New Years Eve was worse than last year. The readings at LCP represent an increase of 23 percent and 19 percent compared to last year’s readings of 99 ug/m3 for PM10 and 98 ug/m3 for PM2.5 at the same station.

At the EDSA Muñoz monitoring station, the same pattern was recorded. Air quality reading spiked to Very Poor level at 12:00 am with 120 ug/m3 for PM10 and 102 ug/m3 for PM2.5.

PM concentration in EDSA Muñoz station significantly decreased two hours later at 2:00 am, while at the LCP station particulate matters decreased significantly by 3:00 am.

Readings at the two monitoring stations indicate that Quezon City experienced cleaner air quality as the PM2.5 concentrations were already within the WHO guideline value after 3:00 in the morning.

Air particulate matter (PM) are tiny dust that can be inhaled or respired, depending on the size of the pollutant. As defined by US EPA, PM is a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets suspended in the air and are harmful to human health. In particular, fine particles with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less (PM2.5) could penetrate deep into the lungs, causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases upon inhalation. Thus, PM concentration is an important indicator of ambient air quality.

According to Dr. Mylene G. Cayetano, Associate Professor of University of the Philippines Diliman-Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP-IESM) and one of the proponents of, “Based on the data given by the measurement systems, Quezon City residents can enjoy good air quality on the morning after the new year’s eve. This may benefit people with pre-existing respiratory diseases, asthma, and even those susceptible to dust, who suffers the most with poor air quality, as the morning air clears out first thing this new year. We hope to see more of this in the future.”

Chart of PM2.5 before, during and after NYE in EDSA Munoz station

Chart of PM2.5 before, during and after NYE in EDSA Munoz station

For five straight years, the public service website provided real-time air pollution warnings on the levels of inhalable and respirable air due to the effects of fireworks in Metro Manila. The website provide both PM10 and PM2.5 readings along roadside locations in Quezon City.

The is a public service initiative by the Rotary Club of Makati, in partnership with Makati Commercial Estate Association (MaCEA), Handyware Philippines Inc., the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) and the University of the Philippines Diliman – Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP-IESM). It aims to synergize actions from the stakeholders, both government and non-government, on mitigating the impacts of air pollution. 899-7863 to 65.

Author is from UP-IESM.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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