BATAC CITY -- The Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have installed the second Continuous Ambient Particulate Monitor (CAPM) device at the university’s twin gates here.

It was the second of such device, designed to monitor air quality, built in Ilocos Region.

The first device is installed in Dagupan City, Pangasinan.

The instrument, which costs P3 million and funded by the DENR, is a joint project of MMSU and the DENR.

It is meant to fulfill "the right of the people to a balanced and healthy environment", university administrators and local DENR officials said, saying the project is in line with the Clean Air Act of 1999.

“This is also in line with the promotion and protection of the local environment to attain sustainable development while recognizing the primary responsibility of MMSU and DENR to deal with environmental problems,” they added.

The CAPM measures the “ambient air quality” in the MMSU campus and throughout Batac City.

Experts here explained that the device measures the general amount of pollution present in a broad environment and refers to the atmosphere’s average purity as distinguished from discharge measurements taken at the source of pollution, like vehicles and burning matters.

The device monitors real-time ambient particulate matter (PM) concentrations of 2.5 and 10 within the university compound and surrounding environment.

The PM, also known as particle pollution, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets from the environment and in the atmosphere. This is made up of a number of components, including acids, like nitrates and sulfates, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles.

The CAPM measures dust particles in the air as they enter the inlet and concentrations are detected by the components of the apparatus.

The numbers 2.5 and 10 refer to the sizes of particles in the air that people breathe. These are expressed in micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). For instance, PM10 and PM2.5 are sizes of major concern because these can penetrate more deeply into the lungs, and have been linked to adverse health effects in people.

The typical sources of PM10 emissions are crushing and grinding machines, and dust from cemented and dirt roads, while PM2.5 are emissions from motor vehicles, fossil fuel power plants, and wood burnings, among others.

Based on the Philippine Clean Air Act’s guidelines, the acceptable threshold standard level for PM10 is 60 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), while for PM 2.5 is 15 µg/m3 based on the United States Environment Protection Agency standard.

However, PM2.5 is not yet included in the Philippine government’s Clean Air Act, thus, it has not been adopted as a standard yet. The device analyzes the status of the air and it automatically sends it to the DENR’s Environment and Management Bureau.

The results will be used by the DENR in preparing the annual National Air Quality Status Report that will be used as basis in formulating the Integrated Air Quality Improvement Framework, as provided for in the Clean Air Act.

The device also has a rain gauge that measures rainfall intensity, a wind vane that shows wind direction, and an anemometer that measures wind speed. (PNA)