By NITZ ARANCON, Correspondent,
with FROILAN GALLARDO,
Special Correspondent .
TEMPERATURES rose in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental yesterday due to the smoke and haze from the raging forest fires in Indonesia.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the temperature reached 34.5 degrees Celsius here because of the smaze or the mixture of smoke and haze.
Luz Mercado, a weather specialist at the Pagasa’s Mindanao station in El Salvador City, said the temperatures are expected to remain high here until Indonesia continues to lose its woods to fires. She explained that the monsoon winds were blowing the Indonesian smaze into the country.
The smoke and haze, she continued, are the reason why there has been no cloud formation in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental the past few days.
Mercado said the smaze has been affecting the process of evaporation. “Dili man maka-evaporate og maayo didto sa atmosphere ang moisture gikan sa dagat ug yuta kay nababagan man kini sa smaze. Mao nang walay dagkong cloud formation sa atmosphere. Mao nang init kaayo ang atong panahon dinhi sa Pilipinas labi na dinhi sa Mindanao.”
Mercado warned that the fog-like smaze could result or aggravate in respiratory problems because of the presence of tiny solid particles in the air.
“Kon contaminated sa aso ug abog ang atong hangin, ma-apiktohan gyud ang dunay problima sa asthma ug uban pang respiratory ailments,” she said.
Environment Management Bureau regional director Reynaldo Digamo however said the smaze levels in Mindanao and elswhere in the country have remained under “tolerable levels” — meaning, the human body can take it.
“Our air quality is still fair despite the haze from Indonesia,” Digamo said.
In Jan. 10 and Jan. 11, before the forest fires in Indonesia, the air quality in Region 10 had a particle concentration of 2.5 micro grams per cubic meter.
Digamo said this increased to 26 micro grams per cubic meter in Sept. 13 and Sept. 14. By Sept. 15, this shot up to 35 micro grams per cubic meter, and then 54 micro grams per cubic meter by Sept. 16.
Digamo said the standard level is 50 micro grams per cubic meter.
“So, milapas na siya by four micro grams per normal cubic meter. Although milapas kini, apan sumala sa atong air quality index, ana pa gihapon kini siya mohagbong sa fair,” he said.
Digamo saidzero to 50 micro grams per cubic meter is considered“good” while 51 to 100 micro grams per cubic meter is “fair.”
He said the air becomes unhealthy, especially to “sensitive groups,” when the level of particle concentration reaches 101 to 150 micro grams per cubic meter.
On Wednesday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it detected small amounts of the Indonesian haze over the city but said nothing “is conclusive yet.”
Florencio Dominguez Jr., head of the DENR Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement in Region 10, said the Department’s air quality monitoring equipment detected the increase of particles in the air over Cagayan de Oro last weekend.
Dominguez said they first detected a slight increase when their Thoren Air Sampler detected an increase to 34 micrograms from 25 micrograms on Saturday.
He said that on Sunday, the DENR monitored a spike from 34 micrograms to 54 micrograms.
Dominguez said the DENR has set the normal air quality at 50 micrograms.
“Our tests have nothing that’s conclusive yet. We need more test results to come up with a trend,” Dominguez said.
Unfortunately, Dominguez said, only the DENR regional office in Barangay Puntod has the Thoren Air Sampler capable of detecting the Indonesian haze.
He said the plan to set up similar equipment in Ozamiz City, Malaybalay City and one more in Cagayan de Oro have been set aside for lack of funds.
“We have only one of this air sampler in the entire region,” Dominguez showed reporters the equipment in the DENR regional Office in Barangay Puntod, Cagayan de Oro.
The DENR environment and Management Bureau in Cebu said they have detected the haze in the Visayas and Soccskargen but have not linked it directly to the haze in Indonesia.
Dominguez said it is possible that favorable winds have carried the haze to the Philippines with the prevailing southwest rains.
He said they are hampered with the lack of monitoring equipment in Ozamiz and Iligan.