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Philippines, Air Pollution: Environmental Problem and Propose a Solution (Coursework Sample)

Air Matters
Philippines is currently experiencing one of the major problems in the world – air pollution. To be able to cope with this rising problem of air pollution, we should first take a look as to how it started. One of the factors that contributes to this problem is the uncontrollable population growth. It is said that more than half of the world’s population reside in cities, where the highest air pollution exposure and associated negative health impact take place (Obaid, 2007). The fact that the people tend to gather and stay at one place made the urbanization possible. As a matter of fact, migration from rural areas to the urban areas cannot be controlled these days since people aspires to find a better job and this better job could only be find at the central areas or cities which provides economic stability. Furthermore, the projections for the next 50 years indicate that the worldwide urban population will increase by two thirds (Obaid, 2007). The cities on urban areas kept building industrial factories and infrastructures that seems enticing to those who aim for a higher economic success. The rapid growth of population number in urbanized areas causes a lot of changes on the city itself. One of the changes it caused is the sudden increase of vehicular transportation. The vehicular motors affect and contribute to air pollution in many different ways depending on what measure is used. According to Faiz (1996), to stop the growth in motor vehicle use is neither feasible nor desirable since motor vehicles are beneficial to the economy and transportation industry. The challenge is for us to be able to maximize the motor vehicles but also minimize the impacts that it can contribute to the environmental loss and pollution.
The focus of this paper is on the transportation industry mainly in Manila, its capital. A steady growth in vehicular transportation and centralization of domestic heating have made road traffic the most important source of urban air pollution in many countries (Kunzli, et al., 2000). Philippines has now considered the air pollution caused by vehicles and cars as a major problem that needs an immediate attention by the government which is especially seen in the case of Metro Manila. In busy streets, significant fraction of the particle pollution originated from traffic (Ketzel, et al., 2004). The particulates or the particulate matters that could be found in the smoke released by the cars and other vehicular transportations, little by little, contributed to the air pollution in Metro Manila. This just proves that the urban air pollution has been increasing in major cities, especially those found in developing countries as a result of rapid urbanization (Hester & Harrison, 2009).
Metro Manila has shown a lot of progress throughout the years. This progress has brought a lot of changes in the community and, as mentioned before, one of it is the sudden increase of cars and vehicles which is used by most of the people who lived in this urbanized area. The growing auto industry in the Philippines is unquestionable that can also be observed in the increase in the percentage of sales as reported by Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA). Since January 2016, there is an evident increase in automobile sales (Tipan, 2016).
Vehicles as a means of transportation became a necessary need for the people’s everyday lives – commuting to go to their workplace, to school, to church and to other places. Since the location of these areas might be far enough from their houses, the people tend to commute or use their own car to save time. Large number of population means large number of vehicular transportations and thus causing a traffic towards the vicinity of Metro Manila streets. This traffic that causes numerous cars and other vehicles to release smoke and other chemicals that contribute to the air pollution.
In most cities gasoline vehicles are the main source of lead aerosol and carbon monoxide, while diesel vehicles are a major source of respirable particulate matter. In Asia and parts of Latin America and Africa two-stroke motorcycles and 3-wheelers are also major contributors to emissions of respirable particulate matter. Gasoline vehicles and their fuel supply system are the main sources of volatile organic compound emissions in nearly every city. Both gasoline and diesel vehicles contribute significantly to emissions of oxides of nitrogen. Gasoline and diesel vehicles are also among the main sources of toxic air contaminants in most cities and are probably the most important source of public exposure to such contaminants (Faiz, 1996).
Air pollution leads to lost of productivity, increase medical expenses, and tens and thousands of excess deaths which are further associated with degradation in quality of life that affects all sectors of society, most notably the poor (Faiz et. al., 1996).
Indonesia is currently facing the same problem that the Philippine has about air pollution caused by vehicles. Alongside the increasing number of vehicles crowding the streets in Jakarta, Indonesia is the rapid growth of the amount of toxic pollutants. 70% of the pollutants invading the air in Jakarta is from vehicles while the remaining 30% comes from industrial emission (Air Pollution, n.d.). The number of registered vehicles has grown roughly by 10% for the past six years, hitting 16 million in 2013 – consisting of 4.1 million automobiles and 11.9 million motorcycles (JakartaGlobe, n.d.).
There are five major air pollutants that the city’s Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) regularly monitor (JakartaGlobe, n.d.). First of these five pollutants is lead which is notorious for causing brain and nervous system damage when congested in large amounts, second is nitrogen dioxide which is known to be poisonous to the lungs, third is carbon monoxide which is toxic to the blood and poses a health threat especially those with cardiovascular diseases, fourth is the PM10 which can cause respiratory illness, damage to lung tissue, and cancer, and last is sulfur dioxide which is also associated with respiratory illness and aggravation of existing cardiovascular disease (JakartaGlobe, n.d.).
The fuel consumed by the vehicles are enormous amounts of diesel, premium gasoline, kerosene and gas fuel and the concerning thing here is that most diesel fuel that is sold in the city is low quality and emits a lot of sulfur pollutants (Air Pollution, n.d.).
One step that the government took to address this issue is the production of Local Strategy and Action Plan for Urban Air Quality Improvement in 2006. This action plan has focused on the implementation of lead phase out and low sulfur and on development of public transportation to decrease the number of private cars (ESRI, n.d.). Two other cities in Indonesia have improved their air quality by prioritizing networks dedicated to urban public transport, walking, and cycling (JakartaGlobe, n.d.). In 2009, 27 gas stations closed to transform the space into green areas (Hattam, 2009). These green areas will provide space for recreation, buffer against annual floods, and decrease carbon dioxide levels in the city (Hattam, 2009).
Because of the H1N1 flu incidents in 2009, people wearing face masks in Jakarta, Indonesia is not an unfamiliar sight (JakartaGlobe, n.d.). People became accustomed to wearing the mask and continue to wear them today "in hopes to filter the smog-tainted city air they breathe in" (JakartaGlobe, n.d.).
Singapore, on the other hand, is looked up by other countries for being a highly urbanized and industrialized city-state and at the same time as a ‘clean and green’ haven. However, the city-state also faced the same problems regarding their air quality. From the start of its independence in 1965, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew already envisaged the Singapore to be a ‘clean and green’ city. However, because of its small land area and consequently lack of natural resources, Singapore was inclined to lean on industrialization (Kheng–Lian, 2002). A growing population and continuous concentration of industries in the central business district as the city-state undertook rapid industrial growth in the 1960s and 1970s lead to problems such as heavy traffic and environmental problems, most notably air pollution (Zolla, 1996). Local source of air pollution in the city primarily comes from air emissions from industries and motor vehicles. Transboundary smoke haze from other countries also cross the borders of the city-state, which also contributes to the air pollution. (NEA, 2016). Motor vehicles contribute 57% of local PM2.5 emissions, up until today (UNEP, 2015). Sulfur dioxide and Particulate Matter (PM 2.5 + PM 10) are two of the main pollutants in the city (NEA, 2016).
Faced with this problem, the Singapore chose not to follow the ‘pollute now, clean up later’ trends in many developing countries as it foresees the threat that pollution poses not only to the economy but also to the health of its people. Together with a strong political will, the government took steps to address this issues for the long run. In its effort to address vehicular air pollution, the government implemented rigorous vehicle emission standards wherein the exhaust emission of vehicles are strictly regulated and inspected (Kheng–Lian, 2002). The Environmental Protection and Management (Vehicular Emissions) Regulations contains policies and regulations that aims to reduce air pollution caused by vehicles which includes a fine of $2,000 up to $5,000 for vehicles that emits visible smoke and have idle engines while in road (NEA, 2016). It also includes engaging the public and stakeholders by promoting education about proper vehicle m...
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