The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Health are optimistic that the Health and Pollution Action Plan will build a safer and healthier environment as it compliments the National Environmental Health Action Plan of 2017-2022.
HPAP is supported by a triad of worldwide organizations, such as United Nations Industrial Development Organization, European Commission, and the World Health Organization. Its aim is to outline the specific situational analysis and action plans of NEHAP.
NEHAP focuses on seven thematic areas primarily water supply, air quality, solid waste management, chemical safety, food safety, occupational health, and climate change. The complementary HPAP focuses on sector areas such as outdoor air pollution, wastewater and sanitation, occupational exposure, indoor air pollution, and soil pollution.
Mitigating outdoor air pollution
Data released by the National Air Quality Status Report for 2008-2015, showed outdoor pollution has caused about 2,000 premature deaths, with 9,000 suffering from chronic bronchitis.
In 2009, it was reported that a million people were greatly affected with about 15,000 prematurely dying, due to outdoor air pollution in the country.
It was reported that 55 percent of Filipinos use traditional cooking fuels and technologies that were proven to be detrimental to health. Smoke from solid fuels such as wood, dung, crop, waste, or coal in poorly ventilated homes contains harmful compounds such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur oxide. The burning of solid fuels contributed to 4.3 million premature deaths globally.
To address outdoor air pollution, DENR has set up 51 real-time ambient air quality monitoring systems nationwide. Hazardous gas compounds such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, and lead will then be monitored.
All new vehicles will be evaluated for compliance on emission standards in order to obtain a Certificate of Conformity before being introduced to the market.
DENR also plans to designate a responsible agency assigned solely for indoor pollution. Government agencies such as the Department of Health and the Department of Interior and Local Government also develop household standards for indoor pollution.
With half of the population using traditional cooking fuels, a massive information campaign is planned to inform the community about the hazards of biomass burning regarding indoor air quality. This campaign will include the media or electronic display boards of the Manila Metropolitan Development Authority.
Addressing wastewater and sanitation
DENR stated that a significant portion of the country’s surface waters and groundwaters are contaminated due to low levels of wastewater treatment and improper sewage management. Rural areas were most vulnerable with tropical diseases such as Schistosomiasis and Lymphatic Filariasis becoming widespread in many of the poorest provinces.
The country now has two frameworks, namely the National Sustainable Sanitation Plan and the Philippine Sustainable Sanitation Roadmap, which aim to solve sanitation challenges from ending open defecation, treating sewage markets, agriculture, industry, and other water pollutants.
About 50 percent of the national government cost-share is allocated for sewage projects for all cities and first-class municipalities.
Protecting workers from work-related illnesses
Occupational exposure is focused on the protection of workers from work-related illnesses, where blue-collar workers are most vulnerable.
In a study in the industrial sector, workers in nine cement plants were exposed to heat, noise and dust. The semiconductor manufacturing industry, based on DENR’s study, reported 399 female workers of having abnormal health effects such as abortion and ectopic pregnancy.
The Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) is mandated to prevent and reduce work-related injuries, deaths, and effectively implement occupational health.
OSHC has provided training for the private and public sectors, while also providing technical assistance and services on occupational safety and health. Programs regarding chemical safety management such as fundamentals of industrial hygiene, work environment measurement, ventilation, chemical safety, and globally harmonized system of labeling chemicals were offered to the workers.
NEHAP was first published in 2005 under the watchful eye of the Inter-Agency Committee on Environmental Health. Since then it underwent revisions until its latest in 2018.