Makati ranks second in incidence of upper respiratory tract infections

By Ma. Stella F. Arnaldo

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which recently launched its own anti-smoke belching campaign dubbed “Smoke-Free Edsa,” points to diesel particulates as among the most harmful among suspended air particles.

Diesel particulates contribute heavily to the rising cases of respiratory illnesses of Metro Manila residents. Children, with their smaller lung capacities, are more susceptible with pediatricians reporting cases of simple coughs and colds lasting for about a month.

Other upper respiratory track illnesses that health officials believe are caused by diesel particulates or are aggravated by such fuel emissions include asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia.

According to the World Bank’s Philippine Environment Monitor of 2002, diesel particulates may also cause lung cancer and lead to cardio-vascular diseases.

A 2001 survey of the 19 cities and municipalities of Metro Manila by the Department of Health in cooperation with the World Health Organization found Makati City to have the second-highest percentage of residents with upper-respiratory-tract illnesses.

Of the 19 cities and municipalities surveyed, Pasig City, which is home to a large number of industrial plants, ranked first in the percentage of residents reporting upper-respiratory-tract illnesses, followed by Makati City and Taguig.

In the survey, “Baseline Health Profile of Communities located in the Metro Manila Airshed”, an average of 8 out of 1,000 Makati residents reported combined upper-respiratory-tract illnesses such as acute respiratory infections, sinusitis, pharyngitis, colds, influenza and rhinitis every month.

Pasig reported an average of 10.06 out of 1,000 residents afflicted with such illnesses every month, while Taguig reported 7.02 out of 1,000 residents.

The survey said the prevalence rates for combined upper-respiratory-tract illnesses for Makati, Pasig and Taguig “are relatively higher, by as much as 10 times” compared with the other municipalities surveyed. Among these were: Bacoor, Cavite (an average of 1.34 out of 1,000 residents monthly); Las Pinas (1.17 out of 1,000); Malabon (1.13 out of 1,000); Malolos, Bulacan (1.14 out of 1,000); Mandaluyong (1.35 out of 1,000); and Navotas (2.09 out of 1,000).

Surprisingly, densely-populated Manila with its regular traffic jams of public utility vehicles, only registered 0.86 out of 1,000 residents with respiratory illnesses.

For bronchitis alone, Makati City reported at least 1 out of 1,000 residents with the affliction each month.

Air quality in Makati is improving -- Binay

With such data on hand, Makati is even more hard-pressed to improve the quality of air for its residents and workers.

Several anti-smoke belching teams are dispatched on weekdays around the city, mainly on secondary roads. But according to the MPCO, no teams are dispatched to major arteries like Ayala Ave. or Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue because big business interests like the Ayala Group oppose the idea, foreseeing possible traffic jams on these main roads resulting from the exercise.

Suarez says all team members are trained by the LTO and Metro Manila Development Authority to conduct tests and are deputized by these two agencies to apprehend smoke belchers.

According to Mayor Binay, the apprehensions have improved the air quality in his city and have brought in revenues of almost P1 million in penalties in the second quarter of 2003 alone.

“Our anti-air pollution drive is definitely gaining ground judging from the recent study conducted at the entire stretch of EDSA by the Environmental Management Bureau, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, where experts said air pollutants called total particulates in the metropolis were now within tolerable levels,” Binay was quoted as saying on Makati City’s official website. “At that time, Makati only registered 216 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm), seven per cent below the maximum tolerable level of 230 ug/Ncm.”

The mayor attributed the success of the MPCO’s anti-air pollution efforts to the vigilance of apprehending officers, local officials and residents in protecting the environment.


Bron : Cyber Dyaryo

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