Greenpeace questions Philippines’ air quality ranking in world report

March 07, 2019

GREENPEACE advised caution against readily accepting the findings of the AirVisual 2018 World Air Quality Report ranking Philippine cities as the cleanest in Southeast Asia, pointing out the inadequacies of the country’s existing air monitoring systems.

Khevin Yu, campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines, said, “The good ranking of Philippine cities in the global report is not a cause for celebration, as we have the least average number of monitoring stations per city in the region. In fact, the report highlights the urgent need for more comprehensive, governmental, real-time monitoring networks for the public to fully understand the state of air quality in the Philippines.”

The data included in the study was crowd-sourced from a range of continuous governmental monitoring sources, as well as outdoor Air Visual air quality monitors operated by private individuals and organizations. For lack of clear air monitoring systems in the Philippines, the study had to rely on the use of only 1 or 2 devices in the 16 cities highlighted, most of which are not located near coal-fired power plants, which are major contributors to dangerous PM 2.5 pollution.

“The report therefore represents only a small fraction of the air pollution situation in the country. Given the previous alarming studies related to coal emissions, it is imperative to conduct more thorough and comprehensive research in cities near coal power plants and other sources of air pollution,” Yu said.

A 2016 study carried out at Harvard University, entitled, “Coal: A Public Health Crisis. Diseases and deaths attributed to coal use in the Philippines,” estimates that coal plant emissions could kill 2,400 Filipinos per year.

“Anyone in the country who has been in cities and main thoroughfares of Metro Manila and Calamba knows that we have air pollution problems. As Greenpeace has done in Thailand, we are urging the Philippine government to improve our air pollution standards, and put publicly accessible monitoring systems in place for further research and legislative support to reduce pollution globally,” Yu said.

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