AIR POLLUTION AWARENESS OF PRE-SERVICE
TEACHERS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Rationale of the Research
The threat of environmental pollution has become one of the chief concerns of this decade and perhaps the rest of this century. Although many individuals think the industrialists are the villains who pollute the environment, the major villains are the consumers who desire and demand new, more, faster, and bigger playthings without thinking about the cost to the environment. Though many living things emit carbon dioxide when they breathe, the gas is widely considered to be a pollutant when associated with cars, planes, power plants, and other human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels such as gasoline and natural gas. That is because carbon dioxide is the most common of the greenhouse gases, which trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change (Delgado, A. 2019).
Alongside being an increasingly important problem, air pollution is a major issue regarding various fields such as environment, health, economy and politics. Pollution is now a common place term, which our ears are attuned to. We hear about the various forms of pollution and read about it through the mass media. Air pollution is one such form that refers to the contamination of the air, irrespective of indoors or outside. A physical, biological or chemical alteration to the air in the atmosphere can be termed as pollution. It occurs when any harmful gases, dust, smoke enters into the atmosphere and makes it difficult for plants, animals and humans to survive as the air becomes dirty. It is a mix of particles and gases that can reach harmful concentrations both outside and indoors. Its effects can range from higher disease risks to rising temperatures. Soot, smoke, mold, pollen, methane, and carbon dioxide are a just few examples of common pollutants. Combining these definitions, air pollution in general can be described as the increase in the rate of harmful gases and particles in the atmosphere (Özey, 2009).
The pervasive social and environmental impacts of air pollution make it an important marker for sustainable development across all levels of economic development. The drivers behind pollution differ by economic structure, however, and developing countries have different problems than developed countries. Air pollution is an important indicator for environmental quality and public health in developing regions, as economic expansion contributes to higher pollution levels (World Bank and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2016).
Philippines as a developing country, it deals with many socio-economic and developmental issues. In the face of these issues, some are concerned that over the past two years and in spite of the current administration’s promises, environmental protection appears to have taken a backseat. The government, of course, is responsible for creating and enforcing policies and laws so that its citizens may breathe clean air, as well as enjoy all natural resources based on the principles of sustainable development. In the southeast Asian region — where the Philippines is located — the average PM2.5 concentration is 21 μg/m3 annually, over twice the recommended value (Tomacruz, S., 2018).
Moreover, the Philippines’ annual PM2.5 concentration rests at 18.4 μg/m3 according to the 2016 WHO report. This value is approximately 80% higher than the safe levels indicated by WHO. Aside from national data, WHO also collected data from the major cities of participating countries. Meanwhile, Cebu, Dagupan, and Manila also failed, registering values of 54, 51, and 55 μg/m3, respectively (Ambag, R. 2018),
Air quality has historically been poor in the Philippines. After the passing of the Clean Air Act in 1999, the Philippine area struggled to meet the Environmental Protection Act. Improving the educational level and raising environmental awareness are essential for reducing the air pollution (Selden & Song 1994). From early years on the importance of Environmental Education (EE) arose and teachers are the key point of EE.
This research is anchored on Republic Act No. 8749, also known as Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999. It is a comprehensive air quality management policy and program which aims to achieve and maintain healthy air for all Filipinos. The Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 was signed into law by former President Joseph Estrada in July 27, 1999. It is an act providing for a comprehensive air pollution control policy and for other purposes was landmark legislation in Philippine environmental protection. The law has 56 Sections and divided into seven (7) chapters namely, General Provisions; Air Quality Management System; Fuels, Additives, Substances and Pollutants; Institutional Mechanism; Actions; Fines and Penalties; and Final Provisions.
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Conceptual framework of the Research
The principle behind the creation of the law is where the state recognizes its responsibility in protecting the rights of people in living in a balanced ecology where the quality of air is adequate. The state also acknowledges that social-justice is primary concern when this principal right is violated by developing mechanisms for preventing, managing, restricting, and penalizing air pollution. Importantly, the recognition of these rights were stipulated in Section 4 which the state shall seek to guarantee the following enjoyment of these rights. The right to breathe clean air is one of those rights. The fact that breathing clean air has to be a fundamental right tells us that the society we have built has undermined the importance of ecological balance in living a sustainable life. It is frowning that reality has to be as grim as the laws that are written to promote quality of life.
Technical definitions of scientific concepts in environmental science were included in the legislation as operative terms used in the act. One of the terms that are important to note for future environmental planners is on Chapter 1, Article 2, Section 5, Item g). Eco-profile – means the geographical –based instrument for planners and decision-makers who present an evaluation of the environmental quality and carrying capacity of an area. It is the result of the integration of primary and secondary data and information on natural resources and anthropogenic activities on the land which are evaluated by various environmental risk assessment and forecasting methodologies that enable the Department to anticipate the type of development control necessary in the planning area. The definition beforehand speaks true to the importance of the planning discipline in the assurance of sustainable development with regards to the Philippine Clean Air Act.
Gathering the data needed to plan for the effects of air pollution in human settlements was recognized in a pivotal role for Air Quality Monitoring and Information Network. Reporting the findings of these monitoring activities and research guides the decision maker and planner in making decisions that would affect the quality of life of the population. Implementing this under the Integrated Air Quality Improvement Framework would be challenging, since it seeks to prescribe the emission reduction goals using permissible standards, control strategies and control measures to be undertaken within a specified time period, including cost-effective use of economic incentives, management strategies, collective action, and environmental education and information. The monitoring and information network seeks to understand and implement the air quality standards based not only on the World Health Organization Standards but also not less as stringent than other internationally accepted standards.
The air quality standard followed by the Environmental Management Bureau which was assigned by law to take on the responsibility of air quality management was defined under Section 12 or the Ambient Air Quality Guideline Values and Standards. The standards are well articulated in following international safety standards of acceptable particulate matter overtime from different pollutants.
Quality control follows into the realm of burning garbage or incineration. Section 20 of the law clearly states a ban on incineration that defined the municipal, bio0medical and hazardous wastes burning. Yet traditional methods of burning or siga are still allowed, as is with kaingin as a traditional agricultural practice. This part of the law does not seem to jive well with internationally recognized practices that also ban small pit fire burning or bush burning. This part of the law showcases the weakness of policy in pandering to the harmful practices of past just to make way for public acceptance.
In article 4 of chapter 2 of this act gave the responsibility and jurisdiction of implementing air quality controls to the Department of Transportation and Communication on monitoring and processing of permits for emission standards of pollution from motor vehicles. Any observer in EDSA could easily conclude that there is a failure of implementation in this regard. Public transport vehicles are number one in terms of violators of this law due to the alleged collusion of private testing centers in passing unworthy vehicles for a fixer’s fee. The standards are there, but as with any bureaucracy, implementation of rules and regulations is a different matter.
The law is a sound piece of legislation although it is weak in institutional support. The EMB or Environmental Management Bureau is a small office that monitors not only air quality but water and other resources as well. With a bureau sized staff, operations for implementing the law is inefficient. The resolution for this good law is to upgrade the Bureau to a separate Department of Environmental Protection with its own Cabinet level secretary to oversee its functions and mandate.
We depend on air for our respiratory needs. So, air pollution causes injury to all living organisms. In case of plants, the growth and yield of crops are reduced and cause premature death. In animals including man, serious metabolic and respiratory diseases are manifested due to air pollution. Air pollution is also called as atmospheric pollution. The atmosphere is an invisible layer of gases that surround the earth. Sources of Air Pollution:
Air pollution is a concern which poses threat to human health and likewise greatly impacts the ecosystem and the environment. An expert on air quality and pollution, Environment and Management Bureau Consultant Engr. Reynaldo Tejada shares his knowledge on the impact of air quality and pollution in human health, the ecosystem and the environment in a presentation held here recently on air modeling in the Baguio-La Trinidad- Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay areas. Even with the passage of the Clean Air Act which puts in place air pollution control and policy, Tejada said there are reasons why one should be concerned in air pollution as it poses significant threat to the human health and atmosphere (Susan C, Aro, 2018). Its effect in the human body leads to various health-related diseases such as respiratory disease, decreased lung functions, cancers, eye and throat irritation, he adds. At high risk are children and elderly and those individuals with asthma and cardiopulmonary diseases. As to the
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- Dr. Louie Sanlad (Author), 2020, Air Pollution Awareness in the Philippines. Its Practical Measure for Prevention, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/516601