Air pollution levels in Metro Manila 59% lower in early hours of New Year’s Day

New Year celebrations in Metro Manila resulted in lesser pollution in 2021 as compared to the festivities last year, data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Saturday showed.

The DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) reported that pollution levels in the early hours of January 1, 2021 were lower by 59 percent than the levels recorded during the same period in 2020.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the improvement in Metro Manila's air quality could be attributed to the compliance of local government units (LGUs) and the public to Executive Order 28, which limited the use of firecrackers to community fireworks display that has been in effect since 2017.

He also cited the strict measures implemented by local chief executives in Metro Manila through Metro Manila Development Authority Resolution No. 20-17 that prohibited the individual and household use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices while under a general community quarantine.

In the early hours of Jan. 1, 2021, DENR-EMB's six air quality monitoring stations located in Caloocan, Marikina, Navotas, Pasig, Parañaque, and Taguig recorded an average concentration of 87 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) of particulate matter (PM10), or particles that are less than 10 microns in diameter, such as dust, pollen and mold.

An average of 213 ug/Ncm PM10 concentration was registered by this six air quality monitoring stations during the festivities last year, which translates to a 59-percent decline at present, according to the DENR-EMB report.

The highest New Year's Eve pollution decline was registered in Navotas City from 209 ug/Ncm to 1 ug/Ncm; followed by Pasig City from 130 ug/Ncm to 7 ug/Ncm; Bicutan, Taguig from 355 ug/Ncm to 87 ug/Ncm); Marikina Justice Hall compound, Marikina City from 189 ug/Ncm to 124 ug/Ncm); and Caloocan City Hall Annex, Caloocan City from 332 ug/Ncm to 235  ug/Ncm.

However, the monitoring station located in Don Bosco Barangay Hall Compound in Parañaque City showed a 78-percent increase in pollution from 62 ug/Ncm to 75 ug/Ncm.

The guidelines for PM10 is set at 150 ug/Ncm based on 24-hour averaging.

Likewise, the DENR-EMB reported lower concentrations of finer particulate matter, PM2.5, on New Year's Day.

The monitoring station at the Muntinlupa Bilibid open ground in Muntinlupa City posted a maximum concentration of 12 ug/Ncm during the early hours of Jan. 1, 2021, which accounts for a 43-percent drop from 22 ug/Ncm obtained from the same period last year.

The report, however, noted its Manila City Station measured a high concentration of PM2.5 of 93.5 ug/Ncm around 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2021 from 40.9 ug/Ncm at 11 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2020.

The standard limit for PM2.5 for a short period is 35 ug/Ncm.

Chronic exposure to particles contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as of lung cancer, according to the DENR. (Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz)