Automated air monitoring stations in 12 Metro cities now operational

At least 12 local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila now have their own automated air quality monitoring stations (AQMS), while the remaining five will have theirs by January or February next year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in a statement.

The AQMS in Valenzuela City. Photo credit: valenzuela.gov.ph

The AQMS in Valenzuela City. Photo credit: valenzuela.gov.ph

DENR secretary Ramon Paje said the installation of the AQMS have just been completed in the cities of San Juan, Valenzuela, Quezon, Navotas, Marikina, Makati, Las Pinas, Paranaque, Caloocan, Malabon, Manila, and in the municipality of Pateros.

Early next year, Paje said the AQMS for the cities of Taguig, Mandaluyong, and Muntinlupa are expected to be completed and running by January, while those of Pasay and Pasig by February.

“Our aim to have at least one fully operational AQMS in each of Metro Manila’s 17 local government units (LGUs) complements our efforts to address the fundamental concern of breathing clean air, especially in Metro Manila which has the highest volume of vehicles in the country,” Paje said.

He added that the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) will be in charge in operating the monitoring network from its central station at EMB’s Air Quality Monitoring Office located inside the DENR’s compound on Visayas Avenue, Quezon City.

The AQMS central monitoring station will pool data in real time, air quality measurements from each of the AQMS, and immediately displayed as they are being collected.

Air pollution is measured through the amount of total suspended particulates (TSP), which are small airborne particles like dust, fumes, and smoke with diameters less than 100 micrometers.

By the end of 2013, TSP levels in Metro Manila’s air was 118 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm). The internationally agreed guideline for TSP is 90 ug/Ncm.

The automated AQMS can give real-time measurement levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone present in the air, and is capable of measuring meteorological factors such as wind speed and direction in real time.

The information it provides can be useful to LGUs in ensuring that air pollution within their localities stay within standard levels of air pollutants set by the DENR. Likewise, the LGUs can benefit from the air data provided by the AQMS particularly in planning for their pollution abatement strategies.

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Paje explained that the objective is to provide easily understandable presentation of air quality measurement data for the public, enabling comparison of air quality conditions across borders of the concerned local government units.

“With the system in place, the issue of cross-border air pollution among neighboring LGUs will now be addressed,” said Paje, noting that the real time air quality data could provide basis to establish trends on cross-border air pollution within Metro Manila.

AQMS are used to measure systematically concentrations of pollutants in ambient air and provide a scientific basis for measures to reduce air pollution and protect the community’s health.

According to a DENR study, 80 percent of air pollution in Metro Manila comes from motor vehicle emissions sources, while the rest is from stationary sources such as factories and construction activities.

The environment chief said that achieving international air quality standards rests heavily on the cooperation of Metro Manila cities and town, noting that the installation of AQMS should have LGU approval through a resolution by the city of municipal council of each of the LGUs.

“Whether it’s clean or dirty, air respects no political boundaries. But clean air is a potent political unifier. And that is why I believe that all local executives concerned should act as one entity of governance if they are truly mindful of the fact that clean air is a matter of right of the people, and not privilege,” Paje said. — PIA

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