The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is confident that air pollution, particularly in highly urbanized areas like Metro Manila, will be significantly reduced as a government directive requiring the use of cleaner fuel products and imposing stricter emission standards for all vehicles starts full implementation.
“Filipinos can look forward to breathing better air this year and beyond with the full implementation of Euro 4 standard, a policy requiring oil companies to sell cleaner fuel products,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said.
Paje noted that around 80 percent of air pollution in the country come from mobile sources.
“With oil retailers required to sell only Euro 4 fuels which became effective on January 1 this year, all vehicles would now have cleaner emissions and thus, we can expect cleaner air,” he said.
Prior to Euro 4, the country had been following Euro 2 standards for motor vehicles.
Euro 4 has 50 parts per million of sulfur, one per cent benzene, and a 35 per cent limit on aromatics, compared to Euro 2’s 500 ppm sulfur, five per cent benzene content, and no limit on aromatics.
These values are globally-accepted European emission standards for motor vehicles.
Sulfur in air poses cardiovascular and pulmonary illnesses especially in children and the elderly, and could even result in premature deaths.
Exposure to benzene could lead to blood and bone diseases like anemia and leukemia.
As early as 2010, the DENR issued DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2010-23 setting revised emission standards for motor vehicles effective January 1, 2016.
This was to give vehicle manufacturers and importers lead time to make their engines compliant with Euro 4 standards.
But in March last year, the DENR issued DAO 2015-04 enjoining the Department of Energy to ensure availability of Euro 4-compliant fuels by July 1, 2015 in view of worsening air pollution in Metro Manila because of sheer volume of vehicles plying its roads.
The Land Transportation Office said as of January 2014, there are almost 7.7 million vehicles all over the country, some 2.1 million of them are in Metro Manila.
Paje urged the public to patronize oil companies selling Euro 4 fuels.
“It does not matter whether your car is old or new. Your emission matters more for us to achieve cleaner air,” he said.
The DENR chief, however, added that vehicle owners should not only depend on cleaner fuel but also make sure their cars undergo regular maintenance or check-up.
Euro 4 standards are set by the European Union (EU), defining acceptable limits for vehicular emissions particularly sulfur and benzene.
Under a series of directives, implementation of Euro 4 standards within the EU should have begun in 2005, Euro 5 in 2009 and Euro 6 in 2014.
Vehicles using fuels with lower sulfur content have been found to have less corrosion in engines and other parts, as well as maximized mileage.