Doubts expressed after report finds low air pollution in Philippine cities

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air pollution
A haze of air pollution hangs over Metro Manila.

Doubts have been raised after a report found that 11 of the 15 cities with the lowest air pollution in Southeast Asia were in the Philippines.

The 2018 Air Quality Report from Switzerland-based IQ AirVisual and Greenpeace ranked Calamba, Laguna and Valenzuela City as the three cities with the cleanest air in the region.

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However, Greenpeace has urged caution about the results, pointing to the lack of air monitoring systems in the country.

Air cleanliness is measured in the amount of “fine particulate matter”. Common sources include vehicle emissions, industry, wood and coal burning, and other pollutants reacting in the atmosphere.

The Philippines got a “moderate” rating under the Air Quality Index, placing it 48th among 73 countries. This puts the country above nations including Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

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The 11 Philippine cities in the top 15 were: Calamba City, Valenzuela City, Carmona, Parañaque City, Davao City, Makati City, Manila City, Mandaluyong City, Balanga, Quezon City and Las Piñas City.

Air pollution monitoring

However, Greenpeace today (Thursday, March 7) has questioned the findings, due to the inadequacies of the country’s air monitoring systems.

Khevin Yu, 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.

“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.”

The report ranked Bangladesh as the most polluted country in the world, while Iceland was considered the cleanest. Delhi, India, was the most polluted capital city and Wellington in New Zealand was the cleanest.

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