EMB to local governments: Buy masks for constituents

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita, Michelle Joy L. Padayhag October 26,2015 - 02:50 AM

Although the sky seemed to have cleared yesterday, environment officials said the amount of dust particles in the air has remained above the standard limits and everyone is advised to wear an N95 mask.

William Cuñado, regional director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), yesterday  called on local government units to purchase and distribute N95 masks to their constituents.

HAZE/OCT 25,2015: Haze still seen arround Cebu skyline. DENR advised the people to wear protected gear due to haze. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

Haze still seen arround Cebu skyline. DENR advised the people to wear protected gear due to haze. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)


“Prevention first para mas daghan ang ma-save nga mga tawo (so that we can save a lot of people),” he said in a press conference yesterday.

Such a mask, which is usually used by cancer patients, can be bought from hospitals or pharmacies for around P55.

An alternative is to use a wet handkerchief to cover the nose and mouth when going outdoors to avoid contracting respiratory problems. Goggles are also recommended to prevent eye irritations or pinkeye.

The EMB-7 has sent letters to all governors in Central Visayas containing the latest ambient air quality monitoring data in Metro Cebu.

Cuñado said the letter will serve as guide for the governors to mandate their local chief executives to issue health advisories to their constituents.

Based on EMB 7’s  24-hour monitoring of Metro Cebu’s air quality, the number of dust particles or particulate matter (PM) measuring 2.5 micrometers in diameter reached 85.70 micrograms per normal cubic meter (µg/Nm3) yesterday afternoon.

This is beyond the allowable limit of 75 µg/Nm3 according to the National Ambient Air Quality Guideline Values under R.A. 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act.


The agency has placed an Environmental Beta Attenuation Monitor (e-BAM) at the roof deck of Radisson Blu Hotel to assess the suspended dust particles in the air. Monitoring started at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday and the results of the first 24 hours were released late afternoon yesterday.

Cuñado said the EMB 7 will continue its 24-hour monitoring of PM2.5 presence until the haze in Cebu is declared gone.

HAZE/OCT 25,2015: Haze still seen arround Cebu skyline. DENR advised the people to wear protected gear due to haze. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)

Haze still seen arround Cebu skyline. DENR advised the people to wear protected gear due to haze. (CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO)


In Mactan, state weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) recorded an improvement in sky visibility yesterday.

Weather specialist Bhan Singson said the haze was light yesterday and visibility improved to 8,000 kilometers, which is considered safe for planes.

“The northeast monsoon or ‘amihan’ winds continued to prevail yesterday. We are now on the transition stage,” Singson told Cebu Daily News.

Engr. Cindylyn Pepito, who heads the Ambient Quality Monitoring section of EMB-7, they chose Radisson as a testing area since it’s located away from industries, heavy traffic and other sources of particles aside from the ones in the air coming from the wildfires in Indonesia.

She said the e-BAM was transferred there from its previous location in Liloan.


Today, the EMB 7 will send two teams to Bohol and Negros Oriental to conduct air sampling in strategic locations in both provinces. Each team will bring one unit of High Volume Air Quality Sampler for the sampling.

Yesterday morning, Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto called Cuñado informing him about the haze in the town of Jagna.

The EMB-7 also received reports that Negros Oriental is also affected by the haze although Cuñado said he thinks the entire region is already affected by the haze, which has also covered the Mindanao region entirely.

EMB-7 is also urging the public to avoid exposure to areas with heavy vehicular traffic.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), people who are more exposed to areas with high concentration of PM 10 and 2.5 pollutants are more at risk to respiratory diseases such as asthma, and heart or lung diseases.

Children and older adults are most likely to be affected by pollution exposure. However, even those who are healthy may experience temporary symptoms from exposure to elevated levels of particle pollution.


Cuñado said heavy rains will eradicate the haze since it will take down the particulates from the air to the ground where it won’t be easily inhaled anymore.

Increased wind velocity can also be a solution although it would mean that the particulates will just be transferred from one area to another.

Cuñado admitted that they have no idea as to how long the haze will continue to be present in Cebu and the region.

Southwest monsoon winds enhanced by typhoon Lando last week brought the haze from the forest fires in Indonesia to the Visayas and Mindanao.

Meanwhile, the Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) is advising motorists to regularly check their engines so they don’t contribute to the haze and also to avoid being apprehended.

CCTO executive director Rey Gealon said last week alone, around 60 vehicles were cited for violating City Ordinance 2111 or the anti-smoke belching ordinance.

“This, as CCTO intensified its campaign against smoke belchers following the prevailing haze in the city’s atmosphere.

We have to contribute something good for the environment and this is the best way the office knows how– at least to minimize carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles,” he said.

Violators will be fined P1,000, P3,000 and P5,000 for the first, second and third offenses respectively. They can also be jailed for two months or both.

“Our advice to motorists is conduct regular engine check, preventive maintenance and change oil of the vehicles especially for those with diesel engine. Drivers must always be conscious and conscientious,” Gealon said.

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TAGS: Cebu, Central Visayas, EMB-7, Environmental Management Bureau, haze, Metro Cebu, N95 mask, Pagasa, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration

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