Haze in Davao Region disappearing – EMB

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 October) — The haze affecting the skies over Davao Region since early this month had started clearing out while the air quality had improved from fair to good based on the air quality monitoring done on Sunday, an official of the Environment and Management Bureau-11 said.

Speaking during the Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao, Jeperneo Ylagan, air quality management technologist of EMB-11 said the air pollution index as of Sunday was at 40 micrograms per cubic meter, or within the 0 to 54 range rated as “good”.

The figure spiked to 70 micrograms per cubic meter, or within the 55 to 154 rated as “fair”, on October 17.

Authorities said the haze could have been caused by the forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia and drifted to the Philippines due to the southwesterly winds which intensified when typhoon Lando entered the country on Oct. 18.

Ylagan clarified that air pollutants at this level will not cause any major health ailments.

“For purposes of prevention, those who have asthma or any respiratory diseases, they are advised to stay indoors,” he said.

Haze occurs when fine solid or liquid particles accumulate in the lower atmosphere, according to Gloria O. Raut, senior health officer of the Department of Health- 11 on Friday’s Hermes Club at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao.

Among the hazardous chemical compounds contained in haze are sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

Sulfur dioxide causes impairment of visual perception, manual dexterity, learning ability, and performance of complex tasks.

Sulfur dioxide worsens existing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, while nitrogen dioxide irritates the lungs, causes burning sensation in chest, severe coughing and shortness of breath.

Once it reaches the ground haze may cause cough, nose and throat irritation, and mild shortness of breath to more complex diseases such as cancer, Raut warned.

But Nestor Patnugot, environmental monitoring and enforcement division chief of EMB-11, said the haze will only disappear completely if the forest fires in Indonesia would be controlled.

He added General Santos City suffered from haze of the same intensity five years ago due to smoke from forest fires in Indonesia.

Although it does not pose health risks, haze of this level can affect the air visibility for the airplanes.

Copies of the air quality index were furnished to DOH-11, City Health Office and City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)