The peoples of Sta. Cruz, Zambales are breathing ambient air that is three times worse than the national standard based on the study done by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in November according to Mr. Casimiro K. Ebido Jr, a former member of the municipal council.
The EMB of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in response to the request of Mr. Ebido conducted an air quality test in Sta. Cruz, Zambales last November. The test conducted between 8AM and 9AM in the plaza was earlier reported to be at 1000ug/Ncm but was reported today to be at 800ug/Ncm. Both of the results are three times over the 300ug/Ncm acceptable standard as stated in the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999. The result of the test confirms the complaints of the people for the past several years that the air they are breathing is causing the attacks of their bronchial asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions and skin allergies. The health workers in the town of Sta. Cruz noted the increased incidence of respiratory infections, attacks of bronchial asthma and skin allergies.
The people are blaming the widespread mining operations in their town as the main culprit of the air pollution. Soiled hauling trucks from the barangays pass through the town proper at least every 25 seconds to the port in another barangay where the hauled soil, rocks and mineral ores are shipped out to China and other countries.
In response to the complaints of the people, the mining companies hired street sweepers to dust-off the roads and water the roads, but in spite of these measures employed by the mining companies, the people continue breathing an air that is three times worse than the acceptable standard.
Alarmed by the result of the test, Mr. Ebido said, "the EMB is calling for a meeting between the requesting parties and then will meet with the mining companies and other concerned government agencies on January 21 in San Fernando, Pampanga.".
The Concerned Citizens of Sta. Cruz (CCOS), an NGO advocating for a healthy environment of Sta. Cruz and against mining operations in particular welcomes this development. The CCOS will send representative to the meeting called by the EMB to share other effects of mining in agriculture, fishing, tourism, transport industry, people's health, and others.