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Vehicles are the top contributor to air pollution in the Philippines – DENR

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016


QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Measures to improve air quality in the Philippines are among the priority agenda at the ongoing 8th Annual Clean Air forum of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The discussion points to vehicle emission as the leading factor that contributes 69% to the country’s air pollution.

90% of which comes from Metro Manila.

Based on records of DENR, the current rate of air pollution has declined by about 20%.

However, it is still more than the allowable level stated in the Clean Air Act.

Based on records of the Land Transportation Office, more than 6,000 vehicles have been added on the road from 2012 to 2014.

“It [pollution] worsens because the number of vehicle is increasing; the population is growing; the roads are getting congested and structures are getting higher. These are some factors why air pollution remains on the ground and not dispersing,” explained Rene Pineda, Partnership for Clean Air president.

In 2013, more than three million developed respiratory diseases due to air pollution but the number has lowered by 29% in the past 3 years.

“It aggravates the respiratory diseases like asthma. And it allegedly cause pregnancy defects,” said Eva Ocfemia, Assistant Director of Environmental Management Bureau – DENR.

The government is now penalizing violators of Clean Air Act through the no-contact anti-smoke belching operation. As of today, the government has apprehended almost 9,000 firms for failing the emission standards and for operating without proper permits.

DENR advised to use cleaner fuel to lessen pollution.

“The Euro2 fuel that we use has 500ppm in terms of sulfur dioxide emission. If we use Euro4 it further downgrades emission level to 50ppm only,” Ocfemia said.

The public may also contribute in reducing air pollution by not smoking, by walking or using bicycle for short distances or riding the mass transport system.

It is also better to recycle your garbage instead of burning it.


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DENR to Boracay settlers: Show legal proof of occupancy

by UNTV   |   Posted on Monday, February 19th, 2018

Boracay, AKLAN — At past nine in the morning, personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) began to make rounds on the island of Boracay to issue show-cause orders to illegal occupants.

The DENR first visited famous resorts in Boracay, which it says, have no legal documents to operate in the tourist island destination.

Shortly afterwards, they made rounds in residential areas.

Occupants of the island, which is considered a protected area based on a survey conducted last year, could not show any land title or proof of ownership.

The DENR has given occupants 15 days to submit documents so they won’t be kicked out of the area.

“After receipt of the notice, they will submit documents to prove that they are legally occupying the area,” said Atty. Richard Fabila, focal person for Boracay.

A resident who received a show cause order from DENR argued they have been residing on the island for a long time now, and that they have complete documents.

“I was born here. We have complete documents. I won’t allow them. We will fight for our land. We follow whatever will be the order to us,” said Diana Sespene, a local resident.

Meanwhile, other residents are in favor of the DENR’s move.

“It’s time to address the problem and not let it worsen,” said Edmon Mondejar, a resident.

Meanwhile, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu is expected to visit the island next week.

The DENR has already issued show cause orders to 60 establishments in Boracay. — Leslie Longboen | UNTV News and Rescue


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DENR orders closure of non-compliant establishments in Boracay

by UNTV   |   Posted on Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Top view of a part of Boracay Island (Image courtesy of Ted Willis)

MANILA, Philippines — Forty percent or around 300 establishments in Boracay were found to have been causing water pollution as they fail to comply with the country’s sewerage regulations, according to Department Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu.

With this, the DENR chief announced on Tuesday the closure of non-compliant establishments in the famous tourist destination.

“Mayroon kaming listahan ng mga non-compliant eh na hindi sila nakakonekta, ‘yung kanilang tubig ay bumubuhos na lang doon, ay ito na ngayon ang uunahin ko,” said Cimatu.

(We have a list of non-compliant establishments that are not connected [to the sewage treatment plant]. Their water directly flows into the sea. I will start with them.)

President Rodrigo Duterte initially blamed the local officials of Boracay for allowing some commercial establishments to operate in the island, but not monitoring if they follow sewerage regulations.

Meanwhile, Cimatu accepted the president’s challenge to complete the clean-up and rehabilitation of Boracay within six months.

“Finished or unfinished, pass your paper… ang ibig sabihin ay (it means), I have to do my best to complete it in six months,” said the DENR chief.

Cimatu made the announcement during the launching of the Green Film Festival this year where he detailed the major challenges being faced by the agency, including air pollution, as well as the clean-up of the polluted Manila Bay and proper enforcement of solid waste management. — Leslie Longboen | UNTV News and Rescue


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Air pollution tied to preterm births in China

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: People wearing masks cycle past Tiananmen Gate during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing, China, December 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

(Reuters Health) – Chinese mothers who are exposed to higher levels of air pollution during pregnancy may be more likely to deliver preterm infants than women who live where the air is cleaner, a recent study suggests.

Researchers examined data on more than 1.3 million healthy singleton pregnancies from 30 provinces in mainland China in 2013 and 2014. Almost 105,000 of the babies, or 8 percent, were born before 37 weeks’ gestation, making them premature arrivals.

To see how air quality may have influenced the risk of a preterm delivery, researchers used mothers’ home addresses to estimate their exposure to an extremely small type of fine particulate matter known as PM 1, a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets smaller than 1 micrometer in diameter that’s found in traffic exhaust and can include dust, dirt, soot, and smoke.

Over their entire pregnancies, half of the women in the study were exposed to average PM 1 levels of 46 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3). For each 10 ug/m3 increase in PM 1 exposure, women had a 9 percent higher risk of a preterm delivery.

“We’ve long known that air pollution contributes to preterm birth,” said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an environmental medicine researcher at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“What’s novel in this study is the careful examination of smaller particles which are more readily inhaled,” Trasande said by email.

Much of the previous research linking air pollution to preterm births has focused on what’s known as PM 2.5, or fine particulate matter that’s smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, Xu Ma of the National Research Institute for Family Planning in Beijing and colleagues note in JAMA Pediatrics.

The current study offers fresh evidence of the harmful effects of PM 1, which makes up about 80 percent of PM 2.5. Compared to larger particles, PM 1 has a higher surface area to mass ratio and can reach alveoli, the tiny air sacs in the lungs, Ma and colleagues write. Ma didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Women living in the Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei regions, the Yangtze River delta, the Sichuan Basin, and the Pearl River delta were exposed to PM 1 levels greater than 52.7 ug/m3 over their entire pregnancy, the study found.

For every 10 ug/m3 increase in PM 1 exposure levels throughout their pregnancy, women were 20 percent more likely to have very preterm births, with babies arriving between 28 and 31 weeks gestation, and 29 percent more likely to have extremely premature babies, with infants delivered between 20 and 27 weeks.

Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks, and babies born after 37 weeks are considered full term.

In the weeks immediately after birth, preemies often have difficulty breathing and digesting food. They can also encounter longer-term challenges such as impaired vision, hearing and cognitive skills, as well as social and behavioral problems.

One limitation of the study is its reliance on satellite data to estimate mothers’ exposure to air pollution, a method that might not always reflect women’s actual exposure because it can’t account for the quality of air indoors, at work, or during commutes.

Still, pregnant women should take precautions to limit their exposure to air pollution, whether by reducing their time outdoors during high-traffic hours or wearing an air filtration mask, advised Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah, an environmental health researcher at Boston University Medical Campus who wasn’t involved in the study.

Women considering pregnancy might also ask their doctor whether taking baby aspirin or progesterone might help reduce their risk of a preterm delivery, Mahalingaiah said by email.

Because the link between air pollution and preterm births may be stronger when women are overweight or obese, mothers might also help reduce their risk of a preterm birth by maintaining a healthy weight, eating well and exercising, said Ryan Allen, an environmental health researcher at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

“Poor health can actually increase susceptibility to air pollution’s effects,” Allen said by email.

SOURCE: bit.ly/2GaQhRC JAMA Pediatrics, online January 2, 2018.

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