Cebu News

Skies blue again… for now: Quality of air in Cebu better

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - The Environmental Management Bureau-7 announced yesterday that the presence of dust particles around Metro Cebu went down to allowable levels as per their latest 24-hour monitoring. 

But even with this, the public is still urged to still protect themselves from smaze; a combination of smoke and haze.

Based on EMB-7 latest monitoring, they recorded 32 micrograms per normal cubic meter with the presence of 2.5 Particulate Matter with the standard allowable dust particles in the air which is 75 mic-rograms per normal cubic meter.

This is still in line with the smaze covering several places in Metro Cebu these past few days because of the forest fires in Indonesia.  But according to EMB-7 Regional Director William Cuñado even if it is lower than the standard, the presence of 2.5 Particulate Matter still makes it a threat to the public. That is why they are still recommending to the public to wear the N95 face mask when outdoors.

“We advice them to use a mask, kung dili maka-afford palit og mask there’s an ordinary (way) but I think very effective. Use a wet hanky, bas-on nimo pirme but make it sure nga kanunay basa. Why? Kay og dili na siya basa ang tanang mipilit sa imong panyo, definitely ma-inhale ra pud na nimo,” Cuñado said.

PAGASA Visayas Chief Engineer Oscar Tabada said that either Thursday or Friday this week it is expected that the smaze will no longer be visible in Metro Cebu because of the change in air direction.

But he also said there will be lesser chances of rain because of the effects of El Niño.

According to PAGASA rain is the most effective way to wash out the pollution that is currently in the air now. 

An emergency meeting was called yesterday in the Department of Health-7 office where the EMB, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Office of Civil Defense, the Department of Science and Technology, Cebu City Disaster Office, Provincial Disaster and representatives from Mandaue City were present to talk about the smaze that is being experienced by Metro Cebu.

Prior to the meeting, advisories where issued by EMB-7 informing the public to use protective gear to avoid the effects of the haze.

Assistant Regional Director of DOH-7 Sophia Mancao also revealed that respiratory ailments such as asthma and heart attack may occur when the pollution in the air is inhaled.

Smaze is also being reported to the provinces of Bohol and Negros Oriental where EMB-7 already sent a team to do the monitoring yesterday.

Don’t take  chances

Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella encouraged the public to heed the directive of health authorities particularly on taking preventive measures.

One of the precautions Labella cited is wearing the recommended protective gear such as eye goggles, and industrial dust mask and respirators, among others.

“I advise the citizens to buy their own (protective gear) anyway it will not cost that much,” he told reporters yesterday.

He also plans to consult with Mayor Michael Rama, who was in Manila again yesterday on official business, and with officials of the executive body’s City Health Department on strategies to minimize the effects of the smaze.

CHD head Daisy Villa, in a separate interview, said their office has been waiting for dust masks, donated by the City Hall’s General Services Office that will be provided to people for free.

“We were informed that there are GSO masks to be donated but we still haven’t received them in our office. We are still looking for these donations so that we can distribute it already,” she said.

For the meantime, Villa advised the public especially those suffering from respiratory diseases to buy their own masks. She added there is also a need to minimize outdoor activities.

She likewise reminded people to seek early consultation once symptoms of the respiratory illness are triggered by smaze.

“One should not be complacent. If there are symptoms that may be unusual to you, you have to consult the doctor as early as possible so as not to prolong from suffering from your illness especially if you are asthmatic,” she said.

Province called to action

Meanwhile, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III has directed the Provincial Health Office to issue a memorandum to all local government units in the province reminding them to take measures against smaze.

 He said the LGUs could set aside a budget for the purchase of protective gear such as masks for their constituents if they have enough funds.

For the Capitol’s part, Davide said the province is willing to distribute masks but they have to wait for the recommendation from the health office.

Children, elderly, and patients are considered the most vulnerable to the effects of the smaze. — with Michael Vencynth H. Braga/BRP















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