DENR organizes "airshed" governing board to bring down air pollution in CL


EFFORTS TO improve the air quality of Metro Manila and nearby provinces is gaining ground with the designation of the Bulacan-Pampanga-Bataan Airshed in Central Luzon and the constitution of a governing board to oversee industry compliance to air quality standards in these areas, environment authorities announced recently. 

Republic Act 8749, or the Philippine Clean Air Act, and Administrative Order 2011-11 signed by Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), further divided the Metro Manila Airshed into the National Capital Region (NCR) Airshed, Cavite-Laguna-Rizal Airshed, and Bulacan-Pampanga-Bataan Airshed. 

An “airshed” refers to geographical areas with similar weather or meteorological conditions and sources of air pollution affecting the interchange and diffusion of air pollution in the surrounding atmosphere, explained Maximo Dichoso of the regional DENR office here.

Paje has earlier reported a 21 percent decline in the overall average pollution levels in Metro Manila since the start of the year, saying total suspended particulates (TSP) and particulate matter 10 microns in diameter and smaller (PM10) levels have gone down in the Metropolis.

TSPs are solid pollutants as dust and soot, while PM10 refers to the finer particles that penetrate lung tissues and cause pulmonary or respiratory illnesses. 

Annual standard thresholds for TSP and PM10 are 90µg/Ncm (micrograms per normal cubic meter) and 60µg/Ncm, respectively. 

Under Paje’s Administrative Order, each airshed shall be managed by a governing board composed of the regional directors of the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM); local government officials of the provinces and municipalities; and representatives from the private business sectors, people’s organizations, and non-government organizations. 

The governing board shall assist the DENR in taking measures to control air pollution and set up emission standards; to regulate the use of fuel additives and other related substances; and to formulate policies as well as set standards congruent with the existing national laws. 

The board shall also develop a comprehensive action plan based on the guidelines set by the DENR, and issue an Air Quality Status Report, among other tasks.

To date, a total of 20 airsheds have already been established throughout the country, 15 as regular airsheds and three as geothermal airsheds.