‘Wear masks, hope for rain’
EMB says haze, air pollution in Metro Cebu produces dust particles beyond allowable limits
The air in Metro Cebu was declared “unhealthy for sensitive groups” yesterday afternoon as the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-7) confirmed haze conditions detected in small dust particles exceeding the allowable limit.
EMB-7 Regional Director William Cuñado encouraged those with asthma and respiratory ailments to “limit outdoor exertion”.
In a press statement, he also “highly recommended” wearing “industrial dust mask respirators”.
“Stay indoors and rest as much as possible,” Cuñado said.
“Pray with us for heavy rains which may help in cleaning up the air.”
“Everyone is urged to wear eye goggles, industrial dust mask respirators and other personal protective gear. Surgical masks are not recommended,” he said .
Air quality tests conducted by EMB-7 were done in 30-minute intervals at the Robinsons Building in Fuente Osmena, Cebu City.
As of 4:15 p.m, small dust particles measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter reached an average of 105 micrograms per cubic meter.
This was beyond the allowable limit of 75 microgram per cubic meter in the National Ambient Air Quality Guidelines Values under the Philippine Clean Air Act.
This reading measured “fine particles”.
Earlier at 3 p.m, the concentration of “coarse” dust particles of 10 micrometers in diameter also exceeded the allowable limit of 150 micrograms per cubic meter.
This reading also showed that air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups.
“It is important to note that the current ambient air quality in Metro Cebu is largely caused by the wildfires ongoing in Indonesia,” said the EMB 7.
The agency explained that “particulate matter or PM also called particle pollution is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air.”
“Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot,or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small as they can only be detected using an electron microscope,” it said in a statement.
Dr. Joanri Riveral, medical officer III of the Department of Health (DOH-7), said that industrial dust masks have filters compared to thinner medical face masks.
They fit more closely around the nose and mouth while “air can easily pass at the sides of a surgical mask,” Riveral said in Cebuano.
The heavy duty masks are also e more expensive.
A check online of branded 3M industrial dust masks show the simplest N95 model , used for those sweeping and sanding, costs $15 to $17 each depending on the volume purchase.
Riveral said haze can cause eye irritation, flu, cough and other respiratory problems.
“Just stay home. If you are more exposed to it then health complications will happen,” he added.
A simple eye irritation may lead to swelling or conjunctivitis, he said. Simple flu and cough could have complications.
Those with existing medical problems like heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, tuberculosis, and asthma could also have complications.
Riveral said those fielded on streets like traffic aides and policemen should wear protective gear.
But visibility in the sky was better yesterday than on Friday, said Alfredo Quiblat, chief for Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa) Mactan due to the change of wind direction from the southwest monsoon (Habagat) to the northeast monsoon (Amihan)
Horizontal visibility was seven kilometers which made it safe for planes to fly out.
Last Friday, Pagasa Mactan recorded visibility at less than five kilometers, which meant there was obstruction in the sky.
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