Greenpeace calls for improved air pollution monitoring systems

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Greenpeace calls for improved air pollution monitoring systems
Photo shows an air quality monitoring device set up by Greenpeace Philippines during the installation of the pop-up bike lanes at the Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
Greenpeace / Jilson Tiu

MANILA, Philippines — The unusual haze over Metro Manila bolstered the urgent need to improve the country’s air quality monitoring systems and update air quality standards, an environmental group said Wednesday.

In a statement, Greenpeace called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to improve its capacity to monitor particulate matter (PM) 2.5—a smaller and deadlier pollutant. It said none of the agency’s 14 PM2.5 sensors across the capital region are working.

“Air pollution is a growing health crisis and government decision makers must have robust data, right standards and people-centered solutions in place,” Greenpeace campaigner Khevin Yu said.

The group issued the statement after the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology clarified there is evidence that sulfur dioxide from Taal Volcano in Batangas reached Metro Manila and nearby provinces. An earlier assessment said the haze was due to pollution caused by human activities, and not from Taal’s emissions.

Greenpeace said the government will be “stuck in an air pollution guessing game” without adequate and working air quality monitoring systems.

“Bad air quality has negative impacts on the health of people and the economy. As early as last year, Greenpeace has already sounded the alarm that air pollution will rebound to pre-pandemic levels as the economy opens up,” Yu said.

The group earlier rolled out efforts to install up to 28 air quality monitoring devices in Metro Manila cities and communities impacted by local coal plants outside the capital region. The devices aim to monitor toxic pollutants such as nitrous oxide, particulate matter 10 and PM2.5.

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