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People with respiratory issues told to wear masks

The air quality in the city remains within the good to fair level but people with respiratory problems are advised to take precautionary measures as there is a noted “significant increase” in the level of pollutants, an official from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.

According to the DENR report, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is determined in two monitoring stations. At the Davao International Airport, the AQI is still within the 0-54 index value, which is in the Good level. At the Calinan National High School, it is within the 55-154 index value, which is in the Fair level.

“We continuously conduct monitoring of the air quality index but last Saturday, September 14, we noted a significant increase of the level of pollutants,” said Melvin Dapitanon, Engineer III of DENR’s nvironmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in Davao Region.

Last Monday, a photo from the EMB-Davao particulate matter station shows that thick haze covers the atmosphere of a portion of Calinan District.

A day after, the DENR-EMB noted that the Davao City AQI in the Calinan National High School Monitoring Station is at 47 microgram per normal cubic meter.

He clarified, however, that it is still within the standard 50 microgram per normal cubic meter.

On Wednesday, Dapitanon said it dropped to 39 microgram per normal cubic meter.

According to Dapitanon, they conduct monitoring within a 24-hour period. However, they could not yet declare if the increase in particulate matter is caused by the Indonesian forest fires.

“We still could not determine if the increase of particulate matter is caused by the Indonesian forest fires. We still need to submit the filters to the Central Office for them to analyze the source of the emission, either from the industry, biomass burning or the Indonesian fires,” Dapitanon said.

Meanwhile, he advised people with respiratory problems still need to take preventive measures.

“Even if our AQI still falls within the Good and Fair level, we could not say that this has no health hazards. As a precaution, people with respiratory issues must wear masks because whenever they is an increase in pollution, there is more risk for them,” said Dapitanon.

Yesterday, the Department of Health Davao Region issued an infographic reminding the public, particularly people with respiratory problems like asthma, pneumonia, or cough to take measures against haze.

DOH advised to stay indoors with good ventilation, wear appropriate dust masks when going outside the house and refrain from physical activities in heavily polluted areas.

Also, they reminded to exercise extreme caution when on the road to prevent accidents, use headlights or fog lights, follow the required minimum speed level and extreme caution in low visibility driving, ensure that vehicle is in good running condition, stay away from low-lying areas where smoke and suspended particles may settle and tune in to the radio or television for more health advisories.

They also said that it is good to consult a doctor if there is difficulty in breathing, cough, chest pain, increased tearing of the eyes, and nose or throat irritation.

Haze from the Indonesia forest fire has reached the Soccsksargen area, the boundary of Davao region in the south.

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