Club Launches AQMS Project

We kicked off our Air Quality Monitoring System (AQMS) project during our regular meeting last Tuesday, 12 January, after months of careful and fastidious ground-laying.

The AQMS is one of two milestone projects we’re putting in place in celebration of this, our 50th charter anniversary year. The other is the National Awards for Community Service (NACS), a nation-wide search for the most outstanding community projects of Rotary Clubs in all ten districts of the Philippines. NACS is chaired by PRID Paing Hechanova, while AQMS is being handled by Pres. Eddie Yap.

Both projects will culminate on our charter anniversary day, March 12.

The AQMS launch came with the signing of two agreements with the University of the Philippines and its Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, with Fred Pascual, U.P. president, signing for the university, and Dr. Mylene Cayetano of IESM signing for Dr. Jose Ma. Balmaceda and Dr. Lemnuel Aragones. Pres. Eddie signed for the Club, while PP Roland Young, PE David Ackerman and Ms. Robyn Garner of Clean Air Asia signed as witness.

Dr. Cayetano is responsible for delivering technical assistance and support that includes the design of the system for monitoring, measuring and interpreting data; developing the information transmittal system to media partners; developing the app; and maintaining the system. Put another way, U.P. is tasked to ensure the integrity of the entire system and that the data to be transmitted to the media are accurate. The signing of the agreements effectively kicked off the project and sets it on its way to be fully operational by March 12, our 50th charter anniversary. The agreement covers two years.

The project aims to build public awareness of the air quality in Metro Manila; catalyze to action concerned government agencies to take immediate steps to implement the Clean Air Act; and to move private corporations, NGOs and environment advocates to support the campaign against air pollution to help avert climate change or at least diminish its effects.

The system will use the German-made Grimm EDM363C air and meteorological monitoring unit that can automatically and continuously measure and record the levels of airborne particulates for PM10, PM2.5 and PM10-2.5. It is equipped with sensors to measure temperature, humidity, and wind direction and speed. It must be noted that the sensor for PM2.5, particulates small enough to enter the bronchial tubes and cause damage to the respiratory system, conforms to U.S. EPA standards.

Envisioned as a long-term undertaking that will run through the terms of PE David Ackerman in RY 2016-2017 and PN Jun Jun Dayrit in RY 2017-2018, the project will initially have two stations, one in Makati, the other in Baclaran, to be boosted by a third under a data tie-up with the Lung Center in Quezon City. The Makati and Baclaran stations are funded wholly by RC Makati. The Club is seeking corporate and NGO partners for the possible installation of more systems in other critically-impacted sections of the metro.

It must be made clear that the AQMS is not designed to clean the air. What it is meant to do is feed the public with vital information on the quality of the air in a certain place at a certain time so that, knowing, they may take steps to protect themselves. Its contribution to the overall effort against climate change is its hoped-for effect of drawing the attention of government officials to the problem of air pollution and to get them to finally implement the provisions of the Clean Air Act that has been on suspended animation since 1999.