Kaibigan ng Kaunlaran at Kalikasan (KKK)

Kaibigan ng Kaunlaran at Kalikasan (KKK)

Friends of Progress and the Environment

Traffic congestion poses health risks, study says

Manila Daily Bulletin Published July 5, 2017, 10:00 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Not only does it cost Filipinos millions in potential income everyday but traffic congestion in Metro Manila had a tremendous impact on public health, a study by an environment watchdog bared.

A study by non-government organization Kaibigan ng Kaunlaran at Kalikasan (KKK) concluded that traffic congestion in Metro Manila has contributed to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases among commuters, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and stroke due to the inhalation and ingestion of pollutants.

KKK’s study, titled “Modeling Particulate Matter Disperson in Metro Manila,” was conducted over a period of two years and completed recently with support from non-profit group Clean Air Asia, scientific research institute Manila Observatory, and other independent professionals. It covered 16 cities and one municipality.

About 76 percent of air pollutants come from vehicle emissions, while other “area” sources, including burning refuse, street-side cooking, and construction work, account for 20 percent of air pollution, while only four percent was attributed to industrial sources.

Their study specifically focused on particulate matter that can easily enter people’s lungs and cause coughing, sneezing and asthma in children.

Such small particulates are also internationally recognized as causing ischemic heart disease, cardiopulmonary diseases, respiratory dysfunctions, and lung cancer.

The project used an internationally recognized mathematical technique to predict the pathways of pollution from various sources.

Factors that impact air quality were used as inputs to the model: Air quality monitoring data, topography, actual traffic count, type of vehicles and fuels, and meteorology such as wind speeds and directions that vary in different months.

The study noted that due to variability of these factors, not all of Metro Manila experience dirty air the same way.

KKK said that traffic congestion “is now a critical health issue.”

According to the World Health Organization, around three million deaths per year are linked to outdoor pollution, with majority occurring in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.

The Department of Health also noted that the leading causes of death include cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, among them, lung cancer exacerbated — if not directly caused — by air pollution.

While KKK lauded the national government’s drive to solve traffic congestion, it emphasized that a lot can still be done to address traffic and the critical risk it continues to pose to citizens.

The group proposed a holistic approach to solving air pollution and traffic congestion, such as greater coordination among agencies handling traffic and environmental issues; establishment of a traffic management bureau to oversee the traffic situation.

It also suggested the strengthening of motor vehicle inspection system and traffic management efforts and installation of more closed-circuit television cameras to monitor both social and environmental concerns.

Likewise, KKK asked for the upgrading of traffic light system to deal with increased traffic volume and lesser dependence on manpower to direct traffic.

Enforcers should also undergo a uniform training program, it added. It also encouraged no-contact apprehension of smoke belchers.

KKK said the government should ensure stricter compliance to existing emission standards, while motorists should consider the quality of fuels they use, along with reliability and cost.

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