Local government officials led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan here have called for a review in the recent findings of the World Health Organization (WHO) that Baguio City’s air quality is more polluted compared to Manila and Cebu cities.
This as Domogan expressed concern on the effects of the study tagging the city’s air as among the most polluted especially on tourist arrivals as well as the health of residents and visitors of the city.
Domogan says the WHO could have been wrong in their study citing a previous World Bank study also in 2001 also pointing to the city with the worst air pollution.
However, the mayor admitted that the Baguio’s Central Business District where the air quality monitoring machines are located is polluted but it is unfair and improper for the WHO to declare the entire city as the most polluted compared to Manila and Cebu as areas such as Burnham Park, Camp John Hay, and many residential areas in the city have cleaner air compared to other big cities in the country.
The city mayor has scheduled a meeting of the city and DENR officials Tuesday afternoon to discuss ways on how to address this growing concern on pollution as well as clarify with environment officials on where the WHO sourced their data that served as basis for their study.
DENR regional director Paquito Moreno said they are doubting the study reflects the air quality situation in the entire city, but admitted that pollution especially in the Central Business District has been high especially during rush hours.
Moreno added another factor for the high concentration of pollutants in Baguio’s air is its cold temperature and high altitude which slows down the dispersal of these minute harmful particles in the air.
The WHO last week released the result of their Ambient Air Pollution Study for 2014 which they based in the 2010 Clean Air Initiative Study made in 2010, with Baguio having the highest presence of Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) at 49 micrograms per cubic meter compared to cities of Cebu and Manila which has only a PM 2.5 concentration of 22 micrograms per cubic meter.
In terms of Particulate Matter 10 (PM 10), the city has some 107 micrograms per cubic meter of pollutants compared to Cebu with 47 micrograms per cubic meter and Manila with 49 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 10.
According to the WHO, air quality in most cities worldwide that monitor outdoor or ambient air pollution fails to meet WHO guidelines for safe levels, putting people at additional risk of respiratory disease and other health problems.
The WHO reported that Manila, Cebu, and Baguio exceeded the tolerable levels of 20 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 2.5.
In April 2014, WHO issued new information estimating that outdoor air pollution was responsible for the deaths of some 3.7 million people under the age of 60 in 2012.
WHO’s urban air quality database covers 1,600 cities across 91 countries with about half of the urban population being monitored exposed to air pollution that is at least 2.5 times higher than the levels WHO recommends — putting those people at additional risk of serious, long-term health problems.
In Baguio, the local government and the DENR has been regularly monitoring air quality and implementing random anti-smoke belching roadside emission tests which imposes to smoke belchers some P1,500 fine.