What we can do on our own to lessen pollution impact
The Philippines is certainly heading in the right direction of being the next “Tiger of Asia.”
But if the country is to blossom into a real Pearl of the Orient, many aspects of its daily life need to be greatly improved, especially in Manila. Clean air must surely rank as a high-priority concern.
By all accounts, the quality of the air in pollution-plagued Manila has worsened. And it seems little or nothing is being done by the authorities about it. So it looks like we are essentially on our own. If so, what steps can we take to lessen the impact of the filthy air around us?
We can reduce exposure to air pollution by not walking along busy streets and thoroughfares. Instead we can use side streets and parks. Pollution levels can fall by a factor of 10 just by moving a few meters away from exhaust fumes.
When we cross a road, we should stand well back from the curb while waiting for the lights to change or for a gap in the traffic. Experts say that every meter really does count when you are in close proximity to traffic fumes.
Avoid pollution spikes. Predictably, there are large spikes in pollution during times of high traffic congestion—the morning and late-afternoon rush hours.
Wear a mask. One sees motorcyclists and traffic enforcers wearing masks. But they only make a difference if they fit tightly and are cleaned regularly. Even the slightest gap to allow you to breathe more easily will cancel out any benefits.
Avoid exercising in traffic. Apart from the risk of being run over by a jeepney, cycling or jogging exposes us to air pollution—because we inhale three times as much as when we are were walking, for the simple reason that our lungs are gasping for more air.
Protect ourselves indoors by ventilating our homes properly, but hopefully with air that’s not full of pollutants from the outside.
And if you live in a posh penthouse high above the madding crowd, don’t think you’re safe. Pollution levels remain constant up to 700 meters.
—ROBERT HARLAND, [email protected]
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