The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the De La Salle University (DLSU) jointly launched today (Tuesday) a new air quality monitoring station to collect real time air quality data along major thoroughfares of south Manila.

Leading the launching held at the DLSU campus along Taft Avenue in Manila were Environmental Management Bureau Dir. Juan Miguel Cuna, representing DENR Sec. Ramon J. P. Paje, and DLSU’s President and Chancellor Bro. Narciso Erquiza Jr., FSC. The activity is part of the highlights of this year’s celebration of November as National Clean Air Month.

In a speech read by Cuna, Paje lauded the university’s administration in partnering with the DENR in the effort to provide for improved air quality for the people in the metropolis. “We are glad of the support extended to us by one of the country’s leading universities known for its expertise in technology that promotes sustainable environmental development and clean energy,” he said.

Paje explained that the DLSU air quality station was the third to be installed this year to strengthen monitoring of air pollutants in the metropolis. The first two air quality monitoring equipment have been installed in Valenzuela City and in Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City while the fourth equipment will be installed at the compound of the Department of Public Works and Highways along EDSA, also in Quezon City, within the year.

According to Paje, the newly installed equipment is capable of measuring criteria pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene and xylene, as well as meteorological data, all in real time.

He added that in line with the DENR’s Clean Air program, the data collected would be used for air quality management, traffic and land-use purposes, determining exposure and advancing studies on health, vegetation or building materials. “With more pollutants being monitored in real time, we can be assured of more effective policies in curbing air pollution,” he said.

Paje stressed the need for more interventions to achieve the healthy World Health Organization standard of 90 µg/Ncm. These include enhancement of anti-smoke belching operations in Metro Manila; adoption of more stringent emission standards for all types of motor vehicles; and the use of closed-circuit television cameras for a stricter monitoring of private emission testing and motor vehicle inspection centers.

Meanwhile, EMB Dir. Cuna said that all four air quality monitoring stations will be operated by the EMB. He also said that his agency regularly monitors air pollution by measuring the amount of dust and other pollutant particles in the air, known as total suspended particulates or TSPs. The level of TSP in Meetro Manila reportedly dropped from 166 micrograms per normal cubic meter (µg/Ncm) during the second quarter of 2010 to 120 µg/Ncm for the same period in 2011, and further went down to an average of 1116 µg/Ncm for the third quarter of this year.