ON average, a person inhales and exhales 18 to 20 times per minute. Unless the person is holding his breath under water or simply avoiding a particular scent, there should be no other reason not to breathe without restrictions—except perhaps the presence of an underlying respiratory disease. The current scenario of air pollution is quite telling.
The WHO reported in 2005 that urban indoor and outdoor air pollution causes more than two million premature deaths worldwide primarily affecting populations of developing countries. In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the WHO has also classified outdoor air pollution as the leading environmental cause of cancer deaths.
Call to action
As a call to action, UAP, Inc., local pharmaceutical company Unilab’s Adult Respiratory Division, partnered with the Philippine Society of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (PSO-HNS) to increase awareness of the importance of proper nasal care. The partnership involves engagements with different groups that are exposed to the impact of air pollution. The advocacy has likewise gained the support of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
A news conference was held on June 23 to discuss the air pollution meter in the country as well as the health hazards of being exposed to indoor and external pollution.
The air we share
“Air pollutants can come from both natural and man-made sources,” explained assistant director Eva Ocfemia of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB).
She continued, “Unfortunately, man-made air pollutants dominate the atmosphere of areas primarily undergoing industrialization.”
According to Ocfemia, air pollution sources can be classified into three: stationary, mobile, or area. Stationary sources are any building or immobile structure, facility or installation, which emits or may emit any air pollutant defined generally as individual points of emission like smokestacks.
Mobile source, on the other hand, are any vehicle propelled by or through combustion of carbon-based or other fuel, constructed and operated principally for the conveyance of persons or the transportation of property or goods.
Lastly, area sources are those not confined to a discrete point or points of emissions. Examples of which are construction activities, unpaved roadways, small non-regulated point sources like dry cleaners and gasoline stations where the point source(s) cannot feasibly or practically be measured. Household cooking, meat curing and waste burning are also among the contributors to area sources.
The DENR-EMB Air Quality Management Section has installed continuous automated monitoring stations (AQMS) in all 17 local government units of Metro Manila. These AQMSs provide real-time measurement levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and ozone present in the air.
“Partial results of the national emission inventory by 2012 showed nine percent stationary source, 19 percent area source, and 71 percent mobile source. On the other hand, NCR emission inventory of the same year showed, 0.68 percent coming from stationary source, 14 percent area source, and 85 percent mobile source,” she shared.
Experts weigh in
Dr. Lourdes Enecilla, Ears, Nose, Throat (ENT) specialist from St. Luke’s Global City and member of the advocacy committee of Philippine Society of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery related the important role the nasal cavity plays in the respiratory system.
“The nasal passages have defenses which help protect our body from harmful substances in the air we breathe. For example, mucus and tiny hair-like cells (cilia) in the nose trap air-borne particles such as dust, bacteria, viruses and allergens. The mucus moves towards the throat to be swallowed then excreted by the body. But if the amount and type of particles are too much for the nose to handle this can lead not only to nasal symptoms but also problems in other systems of the body such as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, asthma attacks and even cardiovascular disease. That’s why nasal care should be given importance to help prevent respiratory diseases. It is our first defense,” she said.
The press conference also served as the launch of NasoClear, a saline solution product marketed by UAP that is recognized by doctors as an effective daily spray to clean the nose. UAP hopes that people will develop the habit of cleaning the nose regularly in the same manner that tooth brushing, hand washing and cleaning of ears are practiced everyday.
“UAP has dedicated itself to ensuring respiratory wellness for Filipinos through the nasal care advocacy because we believe that it is the key to be truly healthy,” said UAP division vice president Larry Salazar.