The Rotary Club of Makati’s Air Quality Monitoring System has expanded its reporting capability to include readings of particulate matter 10, the pollutant in the air that measures 10 micrometers or less in diameter, enabling people to do something to protect themselves from this pollutant.
Before, AQMS data was presented for PM2.5 readings or air pollutants that measure 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter. PM2.5 are also generally called fine particles.
Why does knowing about PM10 and PM2.5 matter?
Both PM10 and PM2.5 are harmful pollutants when inhaled. When PM2.5 levels in the air are above the World Health Organization standard of 25 µg/m3 over a 24-hour mean, there is nothing people can do to stay safe except to avoid exposure.
Because of their tiny size, mere exposure to air when the PM2.5 reading is above safe levels will render people vulnerable to serious respiratory and heart ailments. PM2.5 are small enough to lodge directly onto the gas exchanges of the lungs or inflame the bloodstreams in the heart.
Meanwhile, WHO’s safe standard for PM10 is 50 µg/m3 24-hour mean. When people are informed of PM10 levels exceeding this standard, they can wear a mask to breathe safe when outdoors.
The RC Makati’s Air Quality Monitoring System launched in March is a public service project aimed at raising awareness on air pollution, dubbed as humanity’s biggest killer that causes up to 7 million people to die earlier than they should globally.
The AQMS reports pollution information from four sites, including UST Espana, EDSA Munoz and Ayala Avenue Makati where RC Makati installed three environmental dust monitoring machines, and from the Lung Center of the Philippines where it has a data sharing agreement with the LCP.
“Although the machine is installed in a specific area, the reading is valid depending on the lifetime of pollution. PM2.5, for example, can travel to as far as 1000 kms, until it bumps into a surface or gets washed off by rain. Models can determine the geographical range where the measurement will be valid, and we are on our way to determining that for our AQMS stations,” explains Dr. Mylene Cayetano, Ph.D., a DOST Balik-Scientist from the UP Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology who leads data interpretation on the AQMS.
Children most affected by air pollution
Almost one in seven of the world’s children, 300 million, live in areas with the most toxic levels of outdoor air pollution – six or more times higher than international guidelines – while 2 billion children live in areas which exceed minimum WHO guidelines, according to a major new UNICEF report, ‘Clear the Air for Children’.
“Air pollution is a major contributing factor in the deaths of around 600,000 children under five every year – and it threatens the lives and futures of millions more every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
“Pollutants don’t only harm children’s developing lungs – they can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures. No society can afford to ignore air pollution.”
Download the UNICEF here.
Breathe to live, not to die
RC Makati’s Mr. Eddie H. Yap, who champions the AQMS project and was president during the project’s launch, said it is RC Makati AQMS project’s aim to bring the urgent agenda of air pollution monitoring to the awareness of the general public.
“I ask our fellow Filipinos this question: Are you breathing to live, or to die? Air pollution is a silent and invisible killer, and unless the public knows about its dangers, they would not be able to take caution and protect themselves,” he said.
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