Traffic congestion in Metro Manila is now a critical health issue for Filipinos, an environmental group said in a statement on Wednesday.
This was revealed by a study conducted by Kaibigan ng Kaunlaran at Kalikasan (KKK), a non-government organization that advances sustainable development by providing science-based research to policy makers.
“Not only is this costing the country and Filipinos billions in potential income every day, traffic congestion in Metro Manila is also contributing largely to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases,” the study stated.
“Inhalation and ingestion of pollutants from mobile sources can cause diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and stroke,” it added.
The project “Modeling Particulate Matter Dispersion in Metro Manila” used an internationally recognized mathematical technique to predict the pathways of pollution from various sources.
The study revealed that 76% of air pollutants came from vehicle emissions; 20% from burning refuse, street-side cooking, and construction work; while only 4% is attributed to “industrial” sources.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around three million deaths per year are linked to outdoor pollution, with majority occurring in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.
Locally, the Department of Health (DOH) has noted that the leading causes of death include cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, among them, lung cancer exacerbated, if not directly caused, by air pollution.
The study covered 16 cities and one municipality.
It was conducted over a period of two years and completed recently with support from nonprofit group Clean Air Asia, Scientific Research Institute Manila Observatory and independent professionals.
The study, however, noted that not all of Metro Manila experiences dirty air the same way due to variability of factors including air quality monitoring data, topography, actual traffic count, type of vehicles and fuels, and meteorology, among others.
KKK called on the government to lead a transition from cars to mass transit to lessen air pollution.
“A highly functional mass transport system, combined with land use and population management, would greatly support a drive for cleaner air in Metro Manila,” the group said.