Air pollution levels in Manila and Marikina have exceeded the safety standards during the first two hours of Jan. 1, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said.

Based on the data from DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), air pollution levels of the Metro Manila cities went beyond the standard of 150 micrograms (ug) per normal cubic meter (Ncm) of particulate matter (PM) 10.

It added that PM10 in firecrackers consists of inhalable particles and a mixture of sulfur (S), carbon (C), and potassium nitrate (saltpeter, KNO3), and other fine minerals which contain heavy metals.

Health experts said that particles in PM2.5 can travel deeply into a person’s respiratory tract and cause effects on health and worsen the medical conditions of people with asthma or heart diseases.

Marikina City’s PM10 peaked at 347 ug/NCM around 2 a.m. of Jan. 1 with an average concentration of 271 ug/NCM monitored from 12 a.m. to 2 a.m., or a 215 percent increase compared to last year’s data, the DENR-EBM report showed.

On the other hand, Manila’s PM10 reached 156 ug/NCM between 1 and 2 a.m. The report showed an average concentration of 116 ug/NCM from 12 to 2 a.m., or a 68 percent increase compared to last year’s data.

The department is still conducting manual monitoring of 11 other stations, which is expected to present the laboratory analysis results on Jan. 7.

“Now more than ever, we should work together to correct this way of celebrating New Year revelries as we are all aware of the pulmonary health risks these firecrackers carry,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (