Thursday, November 12, 2015

Smog in the City

By Anton Antonio
November 12, 2015

Dr. Consuelo dL. Habito, Program Chairperson of the Master in Environment and Natural Resources Management program of the Faculty of Management and Development Studies of the University of the Philippines Open University, posted these pictures on her Facebook wall last November 6, 2015 captioned “Smog in the City”.  A closer look at the photos will reveal a very visible thick layer of gray matter in the atmosphere that seems to blanket the entire city.  In the same post, there was an interesting exchange of comments between Dr. Conie (who really is my idol) and me that revolved around (1) the need to review our second hand and “surplus” motor vehicle importation policies, (2) the need to encourage and establish a sustainable public mass transport system that would cover Metro Manila, and (3) the ill effects of air pollution. 

Dr. Conie really chose a very good descriptive caption for her Facebook post: “Smog in the City”.  Smog is a kind of air pollution, originally named for the mixture of smoke and fog in the air.  Classic smog results from large amounts of coal burning in an area and is caused by a mixture of smoke and sulphur dioxide.  Metro Manila air pollution, however, is not caused by the burning of coal but is largely the result of a mixture of solid particles, gases and chemicals in the air. 

Motor vehicle emissions, dust and other chemical and particles in air account for air pollution in the Metropolitan Manila area.  “There are over 70,000 synthetic chemicals in commercial use and application at present.  A majority of these chemicals have harmful effects to humans.  Examples of pollutants are particulate materials, lead, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, VOC and sulphur oxide.  Pollutants have ACUTE EFFECTS on organisms, including human organisms, which can immediately be observed upon exposure.  The acute effects of pollutants largely depend on (a) the properties of the chemical pollutant; (b) the concentration of the chemical pollutant; and, (c) the length of time of exposure.  The response to chemical pollutants could range from skin rashes, to nausea or even death.  On the other hand, some effects are hardly noticed even if exposure is on a day-to-day basis and for a longer period of time.  These are called the CHRONIC EFFECTS of chemical pollutants.  A combination of chemical pollutants can also create what is commonly referred to as the SYNERGISTIC EFFECT.  Synergistic effect occurs when chemical pollutants interact with each other or react to other substances.  The effect of these chemical pollutants in synergy, also called a bioaccumulation process, is very hard to detect.” (Antonio, 2015)

Dr. Conie’s photos are a testament to the fact that there is a big air pollution problem in most highly urbanized cities in the country… and a sense of urgency needs to be institutionalized to mitigate this problem’s impact.  Whenever you see a thick gray film of air in the horizon, be worried shitless… we have smog in the city.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

(Please visit, like and share Pro-EARTH Crusaders on Facebook or follow me at and


Antonio, A. C., (2015). “Effects of Pollutants”. Retrieved on November 12, 2015 from

No comments:

Post a Comment