HONG KONG – 98% of residents in Manila are affected by air pollution and 50% want to move to a less polluted place, according to the latest results released from an Asian air pollution survey by global market research company, Synovate.
The study, involving over 4,500 respondents across major cities in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, examined residents’ perceptions of air pollution and their environmental concerns.
Managing Director of Synovate Philippines, Carole Sarthou, said the results of the survey demonstrated that residents believe air pollution is having a significant impact on their lives and that the problem was not improving.
"With 98% of residents in Manila indicating they are affected by the air pollution and 71% believing that the air quality has worsened over the past year, air pollution is clearly a significant problem for a very large proportion of the population.
"The air pollution is affecting people in many different ways, with 82% of respondents indicating that they were experiencing irritation to their eyes, nose and throat, 57%
breathless or having more difficulties in breathing and 27% attributing skin problems to the pollution," Ms Sarthou said.
Air pollution is also having an impact upon people’s emotional lives, with 62% of residents in Manila worrying about the living environment for children and 40% feeling depressed due to the air pollution.
Of those respondents affected by air pollution, 50% indicated that it made them want to move to a less polluted place.
"The survey reveals that residents in Manila aren’t just being affected by the air pollution in a physical manner, but that it is also having a perceived effect on their emotional lives. This is a real cost, both in terms of increased medical bills and standard of living," Ms Sarthou said.
"As a result, people are now willing to make sacrifices to improve their lives through reduced air pollution and they are also eager to see more done to encourage a better environment." This includes action by industry and government that may have a direct financial impact upon consumers. Most respondents (85%) agree that polluting companies should be fined even if it puts some jobs at risk and 85% agree that the government should do more to promote and encourage a better environment even if taxes have to go up slightly.
A further 75% of residents agree that power stations and factories should switch to cleaner processes, even if consumer bills and prices have to go up.
Residents in Manila are also ready to take individual action, with 93% believing that improving the environment is the responsibility of every citizen and 77% indicating that they are actively involved in cleaning up the environment.
However, further education is required, with 87% of residents believing that if they knew how to contribute to a better environment they would take action. The government also needs to be involved, with 94% of respondents indicating that they would like to see the government more active by implementing recycling programs in the city.
Ms Sarthou said that the clear message from the study was how strongly people in Manila feel about air pollution and the environment, and the very real impact bad air quality has on their lives.
"Importantly, the survey also highlights the need for governments and NGOs to work together to educate citizens and provide the necessary policies to help create a better environment," Ms Sarthou added.