Air quality in Metro Manila improves but remains hazardous in other areas
Rolando Llanos is on his hut in the middle of Taal lake to retrieve his belongings before going to the evacuation center with his family.
Photo by EC Toledo /

Air quality in Metro Manila improves but remains hazardous in other areas

Franco Luna ( - January 15, 2020 - 2:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — Data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources showed that while Metro Manila's air quality generally improved, it has also worsened in areas closer to the Calabarzon region. 

Here is the latest air quality update from the DENR, according to their Air Quality Monitoring System as of 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 15. Air quality was measured in terms of Air Quality Index (AQI) which governments use to measure air quality. According to AirNow, higher AQI numbers indicate lower air quality

Good Air Quality (Air pollution poses little to no risk)

  • Binan City: 8 AQI
  • Las Piñas City: 24 AQI
  • Malabon: 23 AQI
  • Meycauayan City: 21 AQI
  • Navotas City: 48 AQI
  • Pasig City: 3 AQI
  • Parañaque City: 22 AQI
  • Silang Cavite: 47 AQI
  • South Caloocan: 42 AQI
  • Subic Zambales: 17 AQI

Moderate/Fair Air Quality (Moderate health risk for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.)

  • Antipolo City: 63 AQI
  • Mandaluyong: 85 AQI
  • Manila: 71 AQI
  • Marikina City: 76 AQI
  • Muntinlupa City: 53 AQI
  • Pateros: 73 AQI 
  • Quezon City: 51 AQI
  • San Juan: 67 AQI
  • Taguig City: 62 AQI

Unhealthy Air Quality for Sensitive Groups (People with respiratory illnesses should limit outdoor exertion)

  • North Caloocan: 103 AQI

Acutely Unhealthy Air Quality (Limit outdoor exertion; people with heart and respiratory afflictions should rest and stay indoors as much as possible)

  • Lipa City: 288 AQI

The state seismological agency hoisted alert level 4 in the hours succeeding Taal's first eruption, which indicated that a "hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days." 

Phreatic eruptions can be understood as “steam-blast” eruptions as these produce only steam and not magma. Consequently, the ensuing ashfall affected the quality of breathable air as far as Metro Manila.  

Immediately after the eruption, DENR said, air quality in a number of areas in NCR suffered to levels “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”

This let up somewhat the following day, but contaminated air still persisted in some areas. 

The Environmental Management Bureau of DENR's Central Office also earlier provided citizens in areas whose air is affected a briefer on what to do:

  • Follow evacuation protocols
  • Stay indoors unless needed, close the windows and doors and do not run air-conditionining. Keep home from infiltration by using damp curtains, blankets, or clothing and keep pets indoors.
  • Avoid areas downwind and areas directly hit by volcanic emission
  • Ensure safe water and food supply
  • Use dust masks and wear goggles or eye glasses
  • If outside seek shelter and use a mask or handkerchief for breathing. Wear protective clothing especially if working in the ash fall, and goggles to protect the eyes.
  • If possible do not drive, park your car under-cover or cover it. If you must drive, drive slowly as ash fall will reduce visibility. You may need to use the car headlights because of the reduced visibility. Do not use the car’s ventilation system.

The department's earlier reports measured air quality in terms of the amount of PM10 in the air, or "Particulate Matter 10," which refers to inhalable particles ten micrometers or less in diameter and is used to gauge particulate pollution. Higher levels of PM10 may be dangerous for those with respiratory ailments, DENR previously said. This means that the lower the PM10 level is in a given area, the better its air quality is. 

DENR had reported Monday afternoon that air quality was "unhealthy for sensitive groups" in the cities of Taguig, Mandaluyong and Las Piñas.

This seemed to improve the following day as the agency reported that air quality in the metro ranged from excellent to fair on Tuesday afternoon.  

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