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  • Planning to Move for Your Child's Health? 11 PH Cities With the Cleanest Air in Southeast Asia

    In fact, the Philippines beat Singapore for the country with the cleanest air.
    by Cielo Anne Calzado .
Planning to Move for Your Child's Health? 11 PH Cities With the Cleanest Air in Southeast Asia
PHOTO BY iStock
  • According to the IQAir AirVisual 2018 World Air Quality Report, “air pollution is the greatest environmental risk to health today, estimated to contribute to 7 million premature deaths every year.” The comprehensive report also notes that polluted air ranks 4th as the leading cause of early death in the world.

    In fact, back in 2017, we wrote about a study that linked air pollution to over 2 million premature births globally, which would make it one of the worst enemies for pregnant women.

    The problem was outdoor exposure to fine particulate matter called "PM2.5." It is considered “the pollutant with the most health impact of all commonly measured air pollutants” because it can penetrate deep into the lungs when directly inhaled. These particles can be so small and fine that a single hair from your head is 30 times larger than the largest fine particle, says the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

    What are the sources of PM2.5? Pollutants are emitted from power plants, industries, and automobiles. Some are emitted directly from construction sites and unpaved roads. The study's researchers also pointed out that diesel vehicles, forest fires, crop burning, and cooking with wood, dung or charcoal, are major contributors to the air pollution problem.

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    The good news is our air pollution is not as bad as we all think it is, at least according to the latest World Air Quality Report. Eleven of the 15 cities with the cleanest air in Southeast Asia are in the Philippines.

    Calamba, Laguna topped the list with an average of 9.3 PM2.5 per cubic meter of air. The lower the average of a city, the cleaner the air is in the area. Aside from Calamba, other Philippine cities included in the top 15 in Southeast Asia are:

    • Valenzuela (9.9)
    • Carmona (10.9)
    • Parañaque (12.2)
    • Davao (12.5)
    • Makati (13.7)
    • Manila (14.3)
    • Mandaluyong (14.5)
    • Balanga (16.1)
    • Quezon City (17.5)
    • Las Piñas (17.9)

    Surprisingly, Manila beat Singapore, which has a 14.8 average. The report explains that sources of air pollution “vary between rural and urban areas in its various countries with the burning of biomass, vehicular emissions, and transportation as common leading sources.”

    Finding a home in Calamba

    Aside from being the hometown of our national hero, Jose Rizal, Calamba has become a go-to destination of many families because of the many resorts and hot springs found in the area.

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    In an article published by SmartParenting.com.ph, living outside Metro Manila has its perks. Your kids can get quality education at an affordable price, you have access to lush surroundings, and housing costs are cheaper. Based on data available at Numbeo, a crowd-sourced database of reported consumer prices, rent per month of a one bedroom apartment within the city in Calamba is priced at Php5,000. This is easier on the pocket compared to around Php27,000 monthly rent of a one-bedroom apartment in Manila.

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    Meanwhile, those who want to live far from the city can expect to pay around Php4,000 to Php6,000 for rent in Calamba, while those who will pick Manila need to shell out around P10,000 to P25,000 for monthly rent outside the city center.

    Protect your family from air pollution

    In conclusion, the report suggests ways how individuals can reduce exposure to air pollution. When pollution levels are high, it’s best to stay indoors. The National Environment Agency (NEA) of Singapore provides the following tips:

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    • When the outdoor air quality appears to be worsening, close doors and windows.
    • Wet-cleaning methods (e.g. mopping or wiping) generally do not produce dust (unlike dry-dusting or vacuuming) and can be performed to remove settled dust.
    • Fans or air-conditioners may be used for air circulation and cooling. If the air-conditioner draws in unfiltered air from outside (e.g. window units), close the outdoor air intake opening.
    • Portable air purifiers can be used to further reduce the indoor particle level.Re-open the windows and doors in the home when the outdoor air quality improves.
    • Do drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.

    If you love plants, you can add air purifying green wonders as part of your home’s décor. Plants like Bamboo Palm, Devil’s Ivy, and Chinese Evergreen are easy to care for and can liven up the house, too.

    The Environmental Management Bureau under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources actually has a mobile app called the "Philippines AQI" (Air Quality Index) that you can download from Google Play and Apple App Store that monitors air quality. 

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