Air pollution in Metro Manila is increasingly becoming an urgent public health agenda. The need for an Air Quality Monitoring System (AQMS) that is capable of reporting real-time and accurate pollution information has never been more highlighted.
The Rotary Club of Makati’s AQMS features real-time 24/7 recording of PM10 and PM2.5, in micrograms per cubic meter, and .on-line reporting as colored index, with corresponding precautionary advise when air pollution reaches unhealthy levels.
RC Makati’s AQMS is the only air pollution monitoring system in the country that publishes real-time air pollution reports.
To view real-time reports, visit www.Airtoday.ph.
RC Makati monitors pollution from three strategic locations that bracket Metro Manila: UST Espana, Ayala Avenue Makati, EDSA Munoz Quezon City, with an additional monitoring station under a data-sharing collaboration with the Lung Center of the Philippines, also in Quezon City.
PM10 and PM2.5 are tiny dusts in the air that can be hazardous when inhaled, potentially causing inflammation in the lungs or heart.
During the New Year’s revelry last week, RC Makati’s AQMS recorded the highest concentration of PM2.5 in UST Espana at 12:00 midnight December 31, 2016.
PM2.5 level spiked to 212 micrograms per cubic meter air (ug/m3). This exceeded World Health Organization (WHO) safe standard of 25 ug/m3 over a 24-hour mean by up to eight times.
PM10 level reached 264 ug/m3 — five times over WHO safe standard of 50 ug/m3 over a 24-hour mean.
The spikes in pollutants raised the air quality index (AQI) to purple alert, the highest AQI which warned residents of hazardous air. Those with respiratory and heart ailments, the elderly, and children were at high risk of suffocation, coughing, and other long-term respiratory and heart diseases.
Airtoday.ph charts showed that Metro Manila residents in the UST Espana area breathed hazardous air until 3:00 AM January 1, 2017.
At 4: 00 AM of January 1, 2017, air quality was still “very poor” in the area and called for residents to reduce strenuous activities outdoors. People with respiratory and heart ailments were particularly at risk, the charts said.
The air only started to clear from 7:00 AM, and improved to good level until 12:00 noon and well into the next days.
Air quality in the three other stations (Lung Center of the Philippines, Ayala Avenue Makati, and EDSA Munoz) ranged from “very poor” to “poor” from 12:00 midnight of December 31, 2016 to 3:00 AM of January 1, 2017.
“The Rotary Club of Makati is helping boost government’s efforts to raise awareness on the dangers of air pollution. We want to offer an extra pair of eyes to help expose this invisible killer,” said RC Makati’s immediate past president Eddie H. Yap, who initiated and continues to champion the project.
Real-time 24×7 pollution reporting is key
RC Makati uses Germany made GRIMM EDM365 environmental dust monitor using point monitoring technology to measure air pollutants.
In an interview, Dr. Mylene G. Cayetano of the UP Institute for Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP-IESM) who leads the interpretation of RC Makati’s pollution readings, explained that in addition to the GRIMM EDM365 being an advanced technology, the strength of RC Makati’s pollution monitoring lies in its ability to report data real-time through its mobile phone app and website.
“Pollution monitoring machines, whether point monitoring or long-path systems, may have the capability to record pollution data accurately but if this data is not consistently made available to the public, then the monitoring fails to serve one of its more important purposes: To warn the public of pollution spikes in real-time,” she said.
From the monitoring devices pollution information is transmitted to a server where algorithms translate data to an Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI is then published in RC Makati’s website, Airtoday.ph, making the information available to the public real time, 24×7. Airtoday.ph charts can also be downloaded via iTunes or GooglePlay so the public can access real-time pollution information from their smartphone devices.
RC Makati has a 5-tier AQI: Hazardous, Very Poor, Poor, Moderate, Good, and Very Good.
Cayetano explains that air pollution updates from RC Makati’s AQMS “is always relevant. If you checked the readings as of 7AM, that is accurate as of the hour, and relevant based on a three-hour average.”
People can therefore get warned about wearing a mask before heading out so they can protect themselves when going to areas identified with elevated pollutant levels.
“If we are vigilant about keeping safe from firecracker related injuries during the New Year, we should also be vigilant about keeping our lungs safe from air pollution, which is killing us slowly but surely,” RC Makati’s Yap said.
Get real-time air quality updates from Airtoday.ph. A Rotary Makati public service.
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