Solidarity in the time of COVID-19 -- MS Supplement
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EMB cites Luzon lockdown for low land, air pollution

The Environmental Management Bureau in Region 3 has reported a downward trend in collection of residual waste and industry-produced pollutant ozone in Central Luzon this March when the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) started to hold off the coronavirus pandemic.

The EMB report, provided by Regional Director Wilson L. Trajeco to Manila Standard, cited the Luzon-wide ECQ to have an effect on the decrease in waste collection.

This follows Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu’s directive to continue proper solid waste management in localities and sanitary landfills (SLFs) throughout the quarantine period.

"Total residual waste disposed of at sanitary landfill facilities in Region 3 exhibited an increasing trend from January to December 2019. However, from January to March 25, 2020, we noticed a dramatically declining behavior of residual waste disposal at SLFs,” Trajeco said.

The provinces of Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga and Tarlac showed “a synchronously declining residual waste collection and disposal,” he said.

Trajeco noted the ECQ also poses a challenge to local government units on proper waste management. Asked whether the EMB should step in to push LGUs to comply with their mandate of solid waste collection, Trajeco said it is within the power of the Department of the Interior and Local Government to pressure LGUs into compliance.

Applications for permits to transport special waste such as hazardous waste and sewage for treatment, storage and disposal facilities have also significantly declined.

Lung pollutant ozone, which is an oxidant produced by heavy industries and operation of vehicles, was recorded at an all-time low at .017 microgram per normal cubic meter (ug/m3) on March 24, several days after the ECQ was enforced.

Trajeco attributed this decline to reduced commercial and industrial activities, as well as fewer vehicles on the road.

However, greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide exhibit inconsistent levels of emission as shown in the graph, while sulfur dioxide, which is caused by burning of fossil fuels like coal and petroleum, as well as smelting of mineral ores, shows a steady increase.

"This is probably due to the diverted flights to the Clark International Airport from Manila,” Trajeco said.

EMB said a more consistent decline in the emission of these gasses is seen once the Clark International Airport implements its planned closure of its facilities to passenger planes today.

Meanwhile, the volume of particulate matter, which is the sum of all mainly hazardous solid and liquid particles suspended in the air (mixture includes both organic and inorganic particles, such as dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets), also declined in majority of areas in the region.

Topics: Environmental Management Bureau , coronavirus pandemic , enhanced community quarantine
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