DENR project launched to reduce air pollution from open burning
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - October 17, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has launched a project that will reduce air pollution from open burning, which can cause serious health problems and damage the environment.

The project aims to promote the best techniques and environmental practices in open burning activities in response to the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs), according to DENR Assistant Secretary Juan Miguel Cuna.

“The project will introduce globally recognized techniques and practices in creating resource-efficient waste management systems to cut POP emissions produced unintentionally and released into the atmosphere. It aims to reduce the POP released at the identified pilot sites by 90 percent,” said Cuna, who is also the director of DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

Open burning activities such as forest fires, burning of sugarcane and agricultural residue, waste burning and accidental fires were found to be releasing toxic POPs like furan and dioxins.

Open burning accounts for more than one kilogram toxicity equivalent per year of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans released into the environment.

These chemicals are considered “probable carcinogens” that can accumulate in fatty tissues in humans and lead to increased risk for tumors, diabetes and thyroid disorders. Other effects have also been noted on reproduction and sexual development, and the immune and nervous systems.

The project against POPs will be implemented by the EMB, the DENR Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Service and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) using a $1.512-million grant from the Global Environment Facility.

During the project launch on Wednesday, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the EMB and General Santos City, one of the two pilot demonstration sites in the country. The other is Lapu Lapu City in Cebu.

Under the agreement, the local government of GenSan agreed to ensure acceptance and support of the project by stakeholders through consultations and take steps to prohibit open burning while shifting to recycling or reusing wastes that are commonly burned.

It also agrees to provide counterpart contributions in cash or kind and ensure the proper utilization of financial resources through ordinances.

GenSan will also submit periodic reports to the EMB and UNIDO as part of regular coordination activities.

For its part, the EMB will assign coordinators and focal persons to provide technical assistance in the implementation of the project work plan.

“The bureau will also coordinate with other agencies and institutions to support the project and perform periodic monitoring activities on the progress of the project,” Cuna said.

The project is also being implemented in Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia and Vietnam.

“This project launch reaffirms our support, on the national and regional levels, as well as our unrelenting strong partnership with UNIDO, to address the global problem on POPs and accelerate strategies to reduce them,” Cuna said.

ACIRC ASSISTANT SECRETARY JUAN MIGUEL CUNA BURNING CUNA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT BUREAU FOREIGN ASSISTED AND SPECIAL PROJECTS SERVICE AND THE UNITED NATIONS INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION GENERAL SANTOS CITY GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY LAPU LAPU CITY PROJECT
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