Health-related dangers facing MM residents, guests | Inquirer Opinion
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Health-related dangers facing MM residents, guests

/ 01:53 AM May 09, 2014

Visiting Manila can be an exciting and fun-filled experience, but there are a number of health-related reasons an elderly “promdi” like me shouldn’t spend too much time in the capital.

First, there’s the traffic; often cited as the worst in the world behind Beijing and New Delhi. Next is the “noise pollution” epidemic. The main offenders are the millions of motorbikes roaring through Manila streets and neighborhoods.

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But the worse is air pollution. The air people breathe in the capital contains pollutants in excess of tolerable levels. The main culprit is the exhaust from motor vehicles.

Experts from the United Kingdom have just reported that diesel engines are far dirtier and more damaging to the environment than gas engines and are killing thousands of us each year.

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Prof. Frank Kelly, chair of the UK Department of Health’s committee on air pollution, said successive British governments have taken the wrong route for decades by encouraging drivers to switch to diesel engines because they were thought to emit fewer greenhouse gases. Kelly’s comments are shared by Martin Williams, professor of air quality at King’s College London.

Their views should set off a few alarm bells ringing in Manila, given that the majority of vehicles are diesel.

In a move to reduce pollution levels in Britain, Kelly is calling for all diesel vehicles older than five years to be banned in major cities. He says that newer diesel engines are cleaner, though not as clean as gas engines.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, which also has a serious air pollution problem, there’s talk of banning the dirtiest diesel vehicles from the city limits in an attempt to reduce smog levels.

If Hong Kong’s efforts prove fruitful, it would be something for Manila to consider.

—ROBERT HARLAND,

Bacolod City, Negros Occidental,

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TAGS: Air pollution, Beijing, Metro Manila, New Delhi, United Kingdom
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