Volcanic ash, coal ash, and air quality and emission standards in the Philippines

PHOTO by the Philippine Star.

“In the first weeks of this new year, the eruption of Taal Volcano led citizens of CALABARZON, Metro Manila, and surrounding areas to humble before nature’s power, seeking refuge in one another’s kindness and courage. But humility was not the only thing that accompanied the surge of panic that led to the massive demand for face masks and other gear to protect oneself from volcanic ashfall. For many, it also led to greater awareness of and a sense of solidarity towards the communities in our country who have long been suffering from toxic, polluted air.”

“In communities surrounding the twenty-nine coal-fired power plants operating in the Philippines, air has turned from a source of life into a dangerous force that could take it away. No matter how proponents claim to have some measure of monitoring or mitigation of impacts, coal is and always will be a poison. Coal ash, one of the many by-products of the coal chain, contains some of the Earth’s deadliest poisons. The cardiovascular, respiratory, skin, and other diseases suffered by affected residents are a glaring evidence of this…”

…read a letter that thirteen bishops from dioceses across the Philippines wrote to DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu following the recent phreatic eruption of Taal volcano.

Since the eruption that led to the displacement of more than 20,000 families began, there has been growing concerns on the harmful impacts of volcanic ash to public health. This has also led to greater awareness of another toxic and polluted emission from which many communities have long been suffering–coal ash.

Read this full policy brief on volcanic ash, coal ash, and air quality and emission standards in the Philippines which takes a comparative look at the harmful impacts of volcanic ash and coal ash, and examines the country’s existing guidelines and standards on ambient air quality and emissions of stationary sources and the system for monitoring compliance.