Hazy Sunday in Metro Manila

MANILA, Philippines – A blanket of haze greeted residents of Metro Manila Sunday, October 25, as the government continues to monitor the haze situation in parts of the Visayas and Mindanao.

As of noon Sunday, particulate matter (PM2.5) measurements recorded at a research monitoring station at the University of the Philippines Diliman were at "hazardous" levels.

HAZARDOUS. PM2.5 measurements recorded at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Image courtesy Gerry Bagtasa/WeatherManila

Meanwhile, air quality monitoring data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) station in Mandaluyong recorded 74 ug/m3 of PM2.5 in the past 24 hours.

Data from the Mandaluyong air quality monitoring station as of 15:07, October 25, 2015.

Image courtesy DENR

Dr. Gerry Bagtasa, a professor at UP's Institute of Environmental Science & Meteorology, said the haze isn't linked to the Indonesian forest fires, but is instead caused by the stagnant air over the metropolis and its surrounding areas.

The presence of strong winds from the northeast is being counteracted by winds from Manila Bay caused by warm weather, Bagtasa explained in a post in WeatherManila, an independent weather forecasting site he manages.

Winds from the north and the south are also converging in the metropolis, adding to the stagnation of the air.

The haze in the metro, Bagtasa said, has been observed since Friday.

Close monitoring in Visayas, Mindanao

Meanwhile, Malacañang on Sunday said the government is closely monitoring the haze conditions in parts of the Visayas and Mindanao.

Weather state bureau PAGASA said the haze in Mindanao is caused by Indonesian forest fires, which already affected parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and even southern Thailand in the past few months.

The condition in the southern Philippines was aggravated by the winds caused by Typhoon Lando (Koppu) in the past week.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is focusing on strategic monitoring stations in Davao, Cotabato, and Zamboanga, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said.

"Pinag-iingat ng Department of Health ang mga may sakit hinggil sa paghinga o respiratory diseases na gumamit ng face mask kung nasa lugar na may haze," Coloma also said, adding that hospitals in the Visayas and Mindanao are ready to receive patients with haze-related illnesses.

(The Department of Health is warning people with respiratory diseases to use face masks if they are in areas affected by the haze.)

For nearly two months, thousands of fires caused by slash-and-burn farming in Indonesia have choked vast expanses of Southeast Asia, forcing schools to close and scores of flights and some international events to be cancelled.

More than 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) of land has been burned and six provinces severely affected by the haze, according to Indonesia's forestry ministry. – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com