By Catherine J. Teves
MANILA, March 25 (PNA) — Government will tighten its grip on brand-new and second-hand motor vehicles shipped into the Philippines to help address air pollution nationwide.
"Beginning Jan. 1 next year, we'll require that such vehicles be compliant with Euro 4 standards," Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje said Wednesday during a press conference in Metro Manila.
He noted such move is in line with DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2015-04 which prescribes adaptation of Euro 4 motor vehicle emission standards beginning July 1 this year.
DAO 2015-04 also prescribes the use of cleaner Euro IV fuel beginning the same date, said DENR.
DENR further said DAO 2015-04 likewise prescribes new vehicles' engine requirements and emission standards effective Jan. 1, 2016.
"We want to maximize benefits of upgrading from Euro 2 standards," Paje said.
He believes the combined use of Euro 4-compliant vehicles and Euro IV fuel as well as improvement in traffic flow will significantly reduce air pollution in the country.
"There's already substantial improvement in our air quality but we need to do more to meet international standards by 2016," he said.
Paje reiterated urgency for cleaner air, noting studies show air pollution is a public health threat.
Data DENR presented during the press conference show respiratory diseases and cardiovascular ailments are among health problems arising from air pollution.
"Studies show some PhP7 billion is spent annually on medicine and health services for diseases from air pollution," noted Paje.
DENR also said air pollution negatively affects the environment.
Among air pollution's negative environmental impacts are reduced visibility, impaired plant growth and corrosion of metals and marble structures, said DENR.
The agency also said air pollution makes lakes and streams acidic aside from harming vegetation and aquatic life.
Paje expects implementation of Euro 4 standards to result in cleaner emissions of vehicles which account for some 80 percent of Metro Manila's air pollution.
The most significant change will be in levels of sulfur in diesel and gasoline, he noted.
"Sulfur's the black smoke that vehicles emit," he said.
He said sulfur content of Euro 4 diesel and gasoline is only 50 parts per million (ppm).
Euro 2's sulfur content is higher at 500 ppm, he continued.
"That's a 1,000 percent difference," he said.
DENR data show that compared to Euro 2, Euro 4 has lower levels of particulate matter (PM) as well as carbon monoxide gas and benzene.
According to DENR, PM is "any type of solid particles in the air in the form of smoke, dust and vapors" produced by various means like vehicles' burning of diesel fuel.
Studies show PM can enter the body and cause respiratory and other illness, DENR warned.
Experts also cautioned against carbon monoxide and benzene, saying both can be deadly. (PNA)