Another reason to stay home: Air quality in Metro Manila, back to pre-pandemic level?

Published June 29, 2021, 2:03 PM

by Johannes Chua

News circulating that the smog experienced in Metro Manila was due to the sulfuric cloud being emitted by Taal Volcano was debunked by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS-DOST).  In a Facebook post at around noon today, June 29, 2021, the agency said: “The haze observed in Metro Manila is smog or due to human activities, and NOT from Taal Volcano.”

So, does this mean that we’re back to pre-pandemic air pollution?  

Malls are open so cars are out. More companies are now requiring workers to be present at the office instead of working via the WFH setup. Factories are now moving, churning out products for an economy that’s slowly waking up from the pandemic.  So what does this worsening AQI mean? 

It was recorded these past few hours that Metro Manila air quality was around 150-200 AQI (air quality index). For reference, an AQI between zero and 50 is good, while a level of 51 to 100 is acceptable (but this can affect those who are sensitive to certain pollutants). 

At 101 to 150, air is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups such as the elderly, children, and people with conditions. These groups should remain indoors. 

But when AQI breaches 150 to 200, it is considered “unhealthy” with majority feeling more symptoms and those from sensitive groups feeling more negative effects. 

Once AQI is from 201 to 300, the air is judged to be very unhealthy.  Children, asthmatics, and people with heart or lung conditions should avoid the outdoors. The rest of the population should minimize their outdoor activities. Now, when AQI exceeds 300, it is “hazardous” for everyone and necessary precautions must be observed. 

PHIVOLCS-DOST is providing these tips for us to follow especially when our AQI is not so good anymore:

  • Avoid outdoor activities, stay indoors, and shut doors and windows.
  • Cover nose, ideally with an N95 face mask.
  • Drink plenty of water to reduce any throat irritation or constriction.
  • If belonging to any of the sensitive groups mentioned, seek help from a doctor or the barangay health unit if needed.
  • Please take the necessary precautions and wear protective equipment like N95 masks and remain indoor as much as possible.