A DECREASE in particle pollution in some parts of Metro Cebu hit by haze was observed by environment officers on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.
However, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 has to conduct further tests before it can conclude that the Metro Cebu’s air quality is safe.
The EMB 7 recorded a “significant” decrease in its particulate matter (PM) 2.5 test, recording 43.71 micrometer per normal cubic meter as of 3 p.m. Friday. Last Wednesday morning, Sept. 18, the agency reported that its PM 2.5 test had a reading of 56 micrograms per normal cubic meter.
Exceeding the safe guideline value of 50 micrograms per normal cubic meter is already considered an unhealthy level.
The haze has been believed to be brought about by clouds of smoke from wildfires in Indonesia and enhanced by Habagat, or the Southwest monsoon.
According to EMB 7’s Cindylyn Ochea, the latest PM 2.5 test result is below the guideline value of 50 micrograms per normal cubic meter.
Ochea, who heads the ambient air and water quality monitoring section, described the result as significant as the PM 2.5 range in Talisay City is 15-30 micrograms per cubic meter.
“That was the usual range before the haze... We could not yet state if the air quality is already improving because this is only our first average reading. What we had the previous days were just real time PM 2.5 test updates,” she said.
Ochea said they are working on providing the latest 24-hour average reading on Saturday, Sept. 21, from their four stations in the cities of Talisay, Cebu and Mandaue City, and in the municipality of Cordova.
“We are working on getting the results from the four stations. The comparisons tomorrow (Saturday) would be more comprehensive. Right now, our team from the laboratory are working with two manually operated stations in Cebu City and Cordova,” she said in an interview Friday.
A particulate matter is also known as “particle pollution—a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles,” according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website.
PM 2.5 is a dust particle measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The average human hair is about 70 micrometers in diameter, making it 30 times larger than the largest fine particle.
Particles in the PM 2.5 size range are able to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs. Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease, the New York State’s health unit reported.
Ochea advised the public to be cautious on the effects of haze, which she said peaks from 5 a.m. until 10 a.m. and from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.
“The haze will peak because the external source (trans-boundary pollution from Indonesia) and our local source meet. That’s the time that we have significant changes in temperature,” she said.
Aside from following the Department of Health’s guidelines on wearing protective personal equipment such as masks and reducing physical activities outdoors, the EMB 7 also urged the public not to burn any waste and, if possible, reduce the use of motorcycles as these emit smoke. (WBS)