Poor Air Quality Threatens Health and Environment

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Despite concerted efforts by the government and the private sector to improve the quality of the air we breathe, air pollution continues to be a serious threat to the environment and the health of millions of Filipinos.Pinpointed by experts as the root cause of the poor quality of air in our atmosphere is the airborne particulate matter in urban cities and population centers, where millions of pesos are lost every year due to environmental diseases.Metro Manila ranks high among urban centers exposed to this type of air pollution commonly known as soot, which consists of complex and varying mixtures of particles suspended in the air.Particulate matter causes numerous and serious health problems associated with respiratory and cardiovascular ailments, oftentimes leading to premature deaths, asthma attacks and other ill health effects among urban residents.Environmentalists have identified automotive transport as the leading and direct contributor to widespread air pollution in the country.Tagged as the biggest source of polluted air, especially in Metro Manila, are motor vehicles using diesel fuel because of its toxic substance content that proves hazardous to the environment and city inhabitants.Among the toxic chemicals and substances emitted by diesel-powered vehicles are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur and benzene.Their diesel exhaust produces particulate matter, a toxic air contaminant associated with lung cancer. Particulate matters are generally said to be composed of soot or carbon formed during combustion, heavy hydrocarbons condensed or absorbed on the soot, and sulfates.No less than President Aquino has expressed deep concern on the critical level of pollution in the metropolis as he lamented about marveling at a dark, starless sky at night. …