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ROAM: Cost-Effective Solution for Air Quality Monitoring in the Philippines

Image credit: pcieerd.dost.gov.ph

The Robust Optical Aerosol Monitor, or ROAM, is the Philippines’ first locally made air quality monitoring device, and the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) urged the government to consider it as a requirement for the issuance of an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

In its policy brief, DOST-PCIEERD argued in favour of the widespread application of air quality monitoring devices (AQMDs), particularly ROAM, to high-particulate-matter-emitting sectors.

By including it as a requirement before receiving an ECC from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), it’s possible to standardise the usage of AQMDs, especially ROAM, in industries that contribute to high concentrations of particulate matter.

Additionally, the DENR has the authority to issue regulations governing the appropriate use, production, sale, importation, and exportation of aerosol monitors. Strengthened tactics are also needed to stop imitation aerosol monitors from entering the Philippine market.

The use of technologies like ROAM in developing public policy, according to DOST PCIEERD Executive Director Dr Enrico Paringit, innovates governance while improving the effectiveness and efficiency of governmental operations.

He hopes that government organisations will heed their request for policies that are informed by data and research and that DOST PCIEERD would assist in developing these standards and procedures.

ROAM is a tool that was made by scientists at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. It is used to check the quality of the air and the amount of particulate matter (PM) in the air. ROAM takes pictures of size-selected particles up to PM2.5 using laser light and a camera to measure the amount of PM in the air. The gadget can also read the temperature and humidity every five minutes.

Dr Enrico, the head of the DOST PCIEERD, said that it’s time for the government to focus on and do something about how industries affect the health of the people and the environment. The agency ensures that ROAM will have a big effect on the communities, especially those that are close to high-risk places.

Hence, the DOST-PCIEERD ROAM project has been able to make 10 ROAM units all over the country. After the Taal Volcano erupted in 2021, the device was also used and tried in the municipalities of Agoncillo and Alfonso, Batangas, where conditions were difficult. This was done so that it could be sold to the public.

Dr Enrico stated, “As a leader and partner in enabling innovations in the Philippines, we ask our local government units to work with our researchers to find ways to make our air cleaner by using technologies that come from research and development.”

ROAM costs a lot less to make and keep up than other foreign aerosol devices because it was made in the United States. The difference in price does not affect the quality or efficiency of the monitors when compared to those made in other countries, as DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has checked.

DOST-PCIEERD pushes LGUs to build up their local industries so that they can make the materials needed to make ROAM, follow the law, and use ROAM in coal mine industries. They should also promote and sell this air monitoring device. Also, DENR-EMB could try to get local certification and review aerosol monitors so that they don’t have to rely on certifications from other countries.

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