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Cebu News

DENR tells public: Protect self from ‘smaze’

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines – The level of pollution in the atmosphere in Metro Cebu has gone beyond the allowable limit due to the presence of “smaze” (smoke and haze), which is traced from the wildfire in Indonesia.

Authorities have advised the public to wear protective masks or to stay indoors. When it is necessary to go out, it is advised that goggles or sunglasses be worn to protect the eyes.

Even those in the industrial sector are advised to limit work “except that which is vital for public safety and health.”

In its 3 p.m. update yesterday, the Environmental Management-7 says the concentration of dust particles here in Cebu’s atmosphere has measured 10 micrometers in diameter, which is beyond the allowable limit of 150 microgram per Normal cubic meter (µ/Nm3) “which is unhealthy for sensitive groups.” 

“People with respiratory disease, such as asthma, belong to the sensitive groups.  They should limit outdoor exertion. Wearing of industrial dust mask respirators is highly recommended,” EMB-7 said in a statement.

 “We are currently monitoring smaller particles measuring 2.5 microgram per Normal cubic meter (Particulate Matter / PM2.5) in diameter which pose the greatest problems because they can get deep into the lungs, and some may even get into the bloodstream. Initial results already have exceeded the standards for PM 2.5 (See figure for reference),” said EMB-7 Director Engr. William Cuñado in a statement.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – 7 said the smaze may persist for a few days because the wind is moving very slowly at 0.1 meter per second. 

Hazard

EMB-7 said smaller pollution particles can cause more serious health problems.

“Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems because they can get deep into the lungs, and some may even get into the bloodstream,” its statement reads.

It said numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including premature death in people with heart or lung disease, cardiovascular effects such as heart attacks and strokes, lung cancer, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.

People with heart or lung diseases, children and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure.

Monitoring

Dr. Eddie Llamedo, spokesperson of DENR 7, said the Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement Division of EMB-7 started conducting ambient air quality monitoring in strategic areas in Metro Cebu since the other day.  Results of the monitoring are yet to be released.

Llamedo said the air samples collected last October 23 will be examined to determine the level of pollutants to include nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter 10 microns or pm10, pm2.5, total suspended particulates.

“The results of the air quality monitoring will be out next week so meaning we can’t confirm for now,” he said.

Flights on

As of yesterday, no flight was cancelled due to the smaze.

Estee Plunket, head of Corporate Affairs of GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation, said they have not experienced “zero visibility” just yet.

“There are no cancelled flights and the visibility has not yet gone down to zero...there is still a capacity (for airplanes) to fly since the visibility is still able for flights to proceed,” Plunket said.

Weather

Cuñado said still winds can reduce the mobility of pollution and aggravate the smaze.

“We hereby enjoin the public to pray with us for heavy rains which may help in cleaning up the air,” he said.

According to PAGASA Mactan, the mean relative humidity on October 23 was 78 percent. Humid air prohibits dispersion of particles, reducing visibility.

Studies show that the impact of air pollution has something to do with the levels of pollutants, the extent or duration of contamination exposure, health status of a person and the level of activity of a person whether it involves heavy physical exertion while staying outdoors.

PAGASA attributes the smaze was attributed to the monsoon winds blowing southwest made by typhoon Lando that recently hit Philippines last week.

PAGASA’s chief meteorologist Al Quiblat said wildfires can exceed to thousands of miles “impact in weather, climate and air quality.”

PAGASA stations in Cagayan, Palawan and Davao have also reported the presence of smaze in their areas.

Llamedo said DENR’s undersecretary for field operations Demetrio Ignacio Jr. will be attending a high-level meeting together with Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in Singapore to discuss concerns on trans-boundary haze. — /JMO (FREEMAN)

ACIRC AIR AL QUIBLAT ATILDE CORPORATE AFFAIRS DEMETRIO IGNACIO JR. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES DIRECTOR ENGR METRO CEBU NBSP STRONG
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