AIR quality in Baguio City’s central business district remains to be poor according to a study.

In the weekly Talakayan sa Environment Code of the Baguio Regreening Movement (BRM), Apollo Pagano, chief economic development specialist of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Cordillera explained the result was based on a two year study made by the Certeza Infosys Corporation on urban carrying capacity (UCC).

“The critical or most important findings of the study and its recommendations revealed that Baguio City has a poor air quality at the central business district determined by the consultants through the use of particulate matter 10 micrometers (PM10) which are very small particles in the air that are inhaled by humans causing chronic respiratory infections. The standard used in this study is that if the World Health Organization which should only have a 20 micro grams per cubic meter PM10 in the air, the consultants found out that the PM level was three times more than the WHO standard,” Pagano said.

The UCC study was commissioned by Neda which started in January 2018 and competed in October 2019.

“This is the very first urban carrying capacity study done in the Philippines which is now being duplicated by other cities in the country. The study seeks to find out the maximum level of human activity, population growth, land use and physical development that can be sustained by the urban environment without causing serious degradation and irreversible damage or it has something to do with everything that humans do to its environment that affects the quality of the environment and its carrying capacity,” Pagano said.

The study adopted the indicator threshold system in four sectors comprising of the ecology and the environment, infrastructure and transport, urban facilities and services, and public perception.

Some 58 indicators where used by Certeza to assess the current situation or capacity level within these sectors.

The NEDA research specialists said that if the study were to use the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) standard of 150 micro grams per cubic meter, air quality at the city’s central business district will pass the standard.

On the infrastructure sector, the study indicated the need to resolve the extreme traffic congestion of roads particularly during weekends, holidays and peak seasons, aside from finding measures to resolve the parking utilitization rate as Baguio City uses 95 percent of its street for parking.

On solid waste management, only 61 percent of the total volume is generated by the city in 2016 as suppose to a 100 percent collection aside from the low capacity of the city’s sewerage system.

“Among recommendations given by the commissioned organization was for the establishment of an air quality monitoring stations with an electronic billboard in the city’s traffic congested areas, the provision of adequate pedestrian and bicycle lanes in the city and promote walking and cycling,” Pagano added.