June 16, 2014 (9:25 AM)

5 min read


Cartoon by Steely Caballero

Cartoon by Steely Caballero

You’re walking three kilometers from home to school on a hot weekday. You say, “I have to prepare my towel or handkerchief to wipe off sweat all over my face.” You are exhausted and feel like you’re joining a marathon. To put the icing on the cake, smoke from passing vehicles cloud your face and choke you. You feel an irritating sensation in your nose: rhinitis, maybe? But when you least want it to happen, your hands swiftly drag up to your nose and you let go a full hearty sneeze. A sneeze cycle ensues as more and more smoke covers you from cars running by.

Transportation has been an important part of the modern man’s daily routines. We always start the journey with a form of mechanical vehicle, aside from walking or biking. While at the vehicle, our minds have always been thinking of the destination. Usually in jeepneys, when disembarking, we anticipate where we get off, and then we say para or lugar lang, and pay the transportation fare. That’s it.

However, when we are about to commute and look at the commotion of the city streets, we can see that there are greyish, toxic smokes released from the exhaust pipe of vehicles. Hold your nose. Transportation has its downside: smoke belching.

In a nutshell

Smoke belching has been evident since the Industrial Revolution of the 18th-19th century. It was the implication of the abrupt change that started in England that generally formed the modern way we live in our world.

Rural communities in Europe and America became industrial. It gave way to special-purpose machines, factories, mass production, and cars like Ford and Volkswagen. According to history.com, the birth of the steam engine, textile and iron industries, improved systems of transportation, communication and banking, played a key role in the industrialized world, replacing rural livelihood. And as a sad consequence, pollution has entered the scene, a significant factor why people have mistreated the environment through the use of coal, affecting land, water, and air.

Smoke coming from the many machines in our modern world, especially from vehicles, is seen not only as a nuisance but also as a rising threat. Davao, a fast developing city, must also be prepared.

Why the concern?

In an interview with Atenews, Antonio Yee, OIC of the Pollution Control Division under the Environment Management Bureau of the Department of Natural Resources – Region XI, identifies the main threats of smoke belching.

“There are three pollution sources or emissions within the air shed; these are Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs),” Yee said.

All gases mentioned are either toxic or irritating when inhaled.

Yee explained that these pollutants are present in mobile, stationary, and area sources. The mobile source, or the vehicle, contributes the highest for carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds at 97%, 73% and 98% respectively.

However, Yee clarified that the improvement in technology has made the smoke belching controllable.

“Mas-daghan ang aso sa una, because of the past technology. Karon, [even though] mas-daghan ang sakyanan, less na ang pagbuga sa aso,” Yee said.

He explained that this has been made possible due to the presence of biodiesel and additives to fuels, which minimize the noxious gas emissions.

Davao’s air and how it is managed

“The current air quality status of the city is still manageable,” Yee spoke.

However, the Davao government is not lax when it comes to this issue. Based on the 2012 Davao City Air Shed Air Quality Status Report, there are about 136,995 registered motor vehicles classified as cars, utility vehicles, trucks, buses and motorcycles. 90,815 are gasoline-fed and 46,180 are diesel-fed vehicles.

These numbers must be controlled in terms of smoke emission.

“In the management of vehicles, they should undergo emission testing by the Private Emission Testing Centers monitored by the Land Transportation Office, City Environment and Natural Resources Office, Environment Management Bureau, and TESDA to ensure they pass emission standards before their registrations are renewed. This is to spearhead the anti-smoke belching campaign by the local government,” Yee added.

Are Davaoeños aware of smoke belching?

Yee mentioned the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring, which was focused in Buhangin, Agdao, Poblacion (2004-2006), Bunawan (2007-2009), Talomo and Toril. They determined the need to monitor these areas for smoke visibility. The results for the tabulated tonnage of pollutants coming from mobile sources are surprisingly evident. For the Particulate Matter, about 7,674.63 tons for Carbon Monoxide about 122,855.32 tons for Nitrogen Dioxide, about 26,363.15 tons, and for Volatile Organic Compounds, about 72,818.35 tons emitted per year. These are the signs which manifest the real presence of smokes in the Davao atmosphere.

Most Davaoeños are now aware of the harms of smoke belching. This is because of seminars regarding environmental education and the implementation of the City Ordinance on Anti Smoke Belching and the controversial City Ordinance No. 043-02 which is the “Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance”.

Despite all the odds from having smoke exposure, The Department has developed a program called the Linis Hangin Program which started during the third quarter of 2010. EMB XI designated the air section within the Panacan industrial area as pilot area for the said program. The City Government of Davao has plans to conduct its roadside inspection, but still on the process of finalizing the Implementing Rules and Regulations of their newly approved Anti-Smoke belching ordinance.

No matter the convenience, remember that the smoke we release to the atmosphere, especially from our many vehicles, might soon come back to smite us. The call for clean air must start now.

End the silence of the gagged!

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