“There are many easy ways of cleaning the dirty air that has become a scourge of relentless urbanization in Metro Manila and elsewhere,” said Christopher Peralta of the university-based environmental group EARTH UST, reminding that “small or big, personal or communal, we all must take action to protect the air, a shared resource, from degrading any further.”
For her part, retired teacher Esther Pacheco of the Concerned Citizens Against Pollution (COCAP) urged everyone to plant and nurture trees as “trees cleanse the air by absorbing pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide and supply humans and animals with oxygen.”
Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. cited the value of raising public awareness and action to combat air pollution. “Educating our people about the Clean Air Act and its implementation is most basic,” he said in a text message in response to the EcoWaste Coalition’s survey for
ideas on how to clean the air.
The EcoWaste Coalition is concerned about the high quantities of TSP in the national capital region as reported in a 2008 profile prepared by the Population Reference Bureau on population, health and environment issues in Metro Manila.
TSP or total suspended particulate matters are tiny airborne particles or aerosols from human or natural sources that enter and pollute the atmosphere.
In Metro Manila, smoke-belching vehicles, open burning of trash and the uncontrolled releases from industries are top sources of particulate emissions which can lead to ill health or death.
The children, the elderly and those suffering from heart and respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema are most susceptible to the adverse effects of TSP exposure.
The Philippine Environment Monitor released by the World Bank in September 2007 showed that nearly 5,000 people in Metro Manila die each year due to respiratory and cardiovascular ailments from chronic exposure to air pollutants.
To inform and inspire Filipinos, the EcoWaste Coalition has identified the following steps that can contribute to improving the air quality:
1. Never dump or set your trash on fire. Cut your waste size to the minimum by consuming wisely and making it a daily habit to segregate, reuse, repair, recycle and compost.
2. Compost – don’t burn – grass trimmings, rice straws, fallen leaves and other biodegradable discards from the garden, farm or kitchen.
3. Grow and nurture plants and trees to improve the quality of air around us.
4. Quit smoking to prevent tobacco smoke, a known human carcinogen, from harming your lungs and the health of those near you.
5. Walk or bike whenever possible, ride the emission-free “padyak” (pedicab) or commute using the LRT, MRT, Pasig River Ferry and other mass transport.
6. Find carpool or vanpool partners and share the ride to your office, school and other destinations.
7. Explore “teleworking” or working at home to minimize the need to go out and travel.
8. Squeeze your workweek to reduce the financial and ecological costs of going to your workplace.
9. Refrain from buying extra cars for personal or family use.
10. Travel less by planning ahead and combining errands into a single trip.
11. Avoid driving during peak hours to avoid sitting in traffic and causing pollution.
12. Don’t top off your gas tank to avoid release of harmful vapors such as benzene.
13. Convert to cleaner fuels if possible. Campaign for tricycles to switch to biodiesel.
14. Report smoke-belchers to the Environmental Management Bureau or to your provincial, city or municipal environmental officers.
15. Have your car serviced regularly and drive properly.
Also, to improve mileage as well as minimize smoke belching, car owners are advised to avoid “jackrabbit” starts and high speeds, go easy on the brakes, refrain from excessive idling, remove unnecessary items in the trunk, keep tires properly inflated and aligned, and get regular car
maintenance checks and tune-ups.
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