Metro Manila Has Had Significantly Cleaner Air Since Lockdown
The Philippines has nearly 600 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with more and more PUIs not yet diagnosed. There is still a ton of chaos and confusion in the second week of lockdown. The economy is down. There are so many jobs lost. Doctors are getting sick. There's so much not-so-good stuff happening that what we can do is try to hold on to whatever silver lining we can: 13 recoveries, food drives for frontliners, the contributions of the mega-rich. Somehow the virus is also revealing politicians who are actually leaders.
Here's another piece of good news: It seems that Metro Manila's air quality index has improved since the lockdown. AirVisual, an app that tracks air pollution and gives users access to the world's largest air quality database, recorded generally "good" AQI for Metro Manila cities.
AQI, according to AirVisual's website, is a straightforward way of measuring pollutant concentration in the air. Six pollutants are considered: PM2.5, PM10, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ground-level ozone. As per AirVisual: "The index ranges from 0 to 500, where high index values indicate higher levels of air pollution and higher potential for adverse health effects. Any value larger than 300, for example, is considered to be hazardous, while an AQI value of 0-50, on the other hand, represents good air quality."
Some cities up north are in the Moderate zone
It's unfortunate that we can't go out and take in all this fresh air, but remember social distancing and staying in are key to keeping the pandemic at bay.
In 2019, the Philippines was deemed to have the best air quality in Southeast Asia, however, at the end of February, Swiss-based IQAir (another air monitoring company) recorded 17.63 micrograms per cubic meter of air of PM2.5 in the country. PM2.5 refers to air pollution particulate matter that's invisible to the naked eye. The World Health Organization's safety target is 10.00 µg/m3 and below.