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Study Reveals Air Pollution in Northern Manila Is Worse Mainly Due to Vehicle Emissions

Prudential plc, Pru Life UK’s parent company, has released the first findings from a two-year research project that examines the current state of global air quality and its health implications across 10 countries and cities, including the Philippines.

A partnership between Prudential’s ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) unit and the Earth Observatory Singapore (EOS) of Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the research project called “Climate Impacts Initiative” assesses the air quality in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya, and the Philippines in support of Prudential’s advocacy to examine the intersection of climate change and health. The study aims to provide useful references for policy formulation among governments covered in the study. 

PLUKPhoto1 Prudential study reveals health risks of worsening air quality

The first phase of the research involves reviewing historical records of air quality and health impacts, analysing trends of air quality, and estimating health impacts of exposure to air pollutants in the studied countries and cities in the recent two decades, while the second phase entails projecting future air quality and its health impact on individuals that consider several emission scenarios. 

This follows Pru Life UK’s 2021 independent study that looked at how climate change affects Filipinos’ health, well-being, and financial security. 

“The Prudential EOS Climate Impacts Initiative white paper is a powerful reminder of the need to minimise the effects of air pollution. Everything we do today will help secure a healthier future for generations to come,’’ shares Steve Hung-Lam Yim Ph.D, Associate Professor at the NTU’s Asian School of the Environment and Principal Investigator at EOS.

The first phase of the study revealed that in the Philippines, air pollution is worse in northern Manila, mainly due to vehicle emissions. Other sources include mobile sources, power plants, and industrial plants.

Apart from the apparent environmental risks of worsening air pollution, the paper also cited negative health implications. Long-term exposure to air pollution can cause severe respiratory diseases, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and premature disease. 

Air pollution

Photo: Pexels

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation reported that the Philippines is one of the ten nations with the most air pollution-related mortality, with 64,000 deaths in 2019 and a predicted rise in the following years.

“In the Philippines, there is a clear upward trend in air pollution-related diseases and deaths,’’ adds Yim.

From 2000 to 2020, the premature death rate due to air pollution in Southeast Asia increased by 33%. 

“For a country as environmentally vulnerable as the Philippines, it is important to raise awareness about the repercussions of air pollution and climate change to the environment and people’s health. This makes climate change a public health issue and we at Pru Life UK believe that financial security is a climate adaption measure. We remain committed to fostering meaningful conversations to drive positive change in this arena,’’ says Atty. Emeren Vallente, Pru Life UK SVP and Chief ESG, Legal and Government Relations Officer.

To know more about Pru Life UK’s work on climate change and health and other ESG initiatives, visit www.prulifeuk.com.ph