The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) launched Wednesday its second fully automatic air quality monitoring station in Valenzuela City to collect real-time pollution data in northern Metro Manila.

Leading the launch at the grounds of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela (PLV) at Mayson Road in Malinta, Valenzuela were Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Juan Miguel Cuna, representing DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje; Valenzuela City Administrator Teresita Capacillo, representing Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian; and PLV President Nedeña Torralba.

Paje had earlier said that the station would be part of the agency’s continuing efforts to improve air quality especially in Metro Manila, where vehicles contribute to about 80 per cent of pollutants.

“As part of our clean air program, the data that this station will collect will be used as reference for crafting air quality management programs and policies especially by the local government unit,” he said.

Cuna, on the other hand, reiterated during the launching ceremony that the station is also capable of determining weather conditions that may affect the movement of air pollutants.

The equipment would provide air pollution data in a timely manner, as well as allow the use of the data in developing attainment and maintenance plans and for abatement measures, he added.

The Valenzuela station is the second to be launched out of four such stations purchased this year. The first was launched on November 15 at the De La Salle University in Taft Avenue to measure data in south Manila. The third is along Commonwealth Avenue, which would be launched on December 20, while the fourth is yet to be installed at the Department of Public Works and Highways compound along EDSA.

The newly installed equipment is capable of measuring pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone, as well as measure meteorological data such as wind speed and direction in real time, with the data available online.

Aside from the four new stations, the DENR has nine other manual monitoring stations distributed throughout Metro Manila to measure TSP levels.

The DENR, through the EMB, has reported that air quality in Metro Manila has improved as evidenced by the declining level of total suspended particulates (TSP), which significantly dropped from an average of 166 micrograms per normal cubic meter (µg/Ncm) at the end of the second quarter of 2010, to 116µg/Ncm as of the third quarter of this year.