Republic Act No. 8749, An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Air Pollution Control Policy and for other Purposes or more commonly referred to as the “Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999” is the legislation which regulates and maintains the air quality in the Philippines. It was approved on June 23, 1999 and on November 7, 2000, through Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2000-81, its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) was released. The law provides for a holistic national program for air pollution management which focuses on pollution prevention rather than control. It identifies three sources of air emission, which are mobile, stationary, and area sources, for a more effective management.

The Clean Air Act, with a focus on the three sources of air emission mentioned above, prescribes a general set of guidelines to limit pollution and corresponding air quality standards that must be met. The compliance of firms and industries to these regulations, as well as the air quality of the country, are continuously done. Furthermore, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has specified a comprehensive list of permits and requirements which must be acquired by potential sources of air pollution.


Institutional Structures and Mechanisms

The Environmental Management Bureau is primarily responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the Clean Air Act. Among others, they are tasked with revising air pollution control techniques, review emission standards, and have the right to enter or access any premises to inspect any pollution or waste source, control device, monitoring equipment or method, and to test any emission.

More specifically, the Local Government Units (LGUs) have the responsibility of managing and maintaining the air quality within their territorial jurisdiction. They must implement the air quality standards set by Airshed Governing Boards; establish an Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) in every province, city, or municipality; and carry out a program and other measures to protect the health and welfare of residents in the area.


Air Quality Management System

To more efficiently monitor the air quality of the country, airsheds will be established based on areas with similar climate, meteorology, and topology or areas which confront similar problems and are under the same development programs. Each designated airshed will be led by a Governing Board whose main task is to carry out the formulated action plan for that airshed. This Board will be composed of the governors and mayors from the areas belonging to the airshed and representatives from concerned government agencies, people’s organizations, non-government organizations, and the private sector.

Moreover, areas will be classified into attainment and nonattainment areas. Attainment areas refers to those where the existing ambient air quality complies with the National Ambient Air Quality Guideline Values. On the other hand, areas where specific pollutants have already exceeded the standards will be categorized as non-attainment areas. In such areas, programs will be implemented to prohibit new sources of the pollutant and LGUs should prepare other measures as well. There is also a surcharge fee based on the annual emission fees for the pollutant(s) for which the area is designated non-attainment as well as penalties and fines imposed if there is a violation of the non-attainment provisions.

Sources of air pollution that are not in compliance with the standards must submit a Compliance Plan to the DENR for approval, which details how the source will be brought into compliance. The owner of the facility must submit the plan within two (2) months of notification of non-compliance from the DENR and has up to eighteen (18) months to meet the applicable standards. In attainment areas, an extension of up to twelve (12) months may be granted. However, no extensions will be allowed in non-attainment areas. For compliance purposes, pollution sources in attainment areas within an airshed may engage in emission averaging and trading while sources in non-attainment areas may only apply emission averaging. Failure to comply with the Compliance Plan will result in penalties and fines to be computed retroactive from the time the notification of non-compliance was served.


1. National Ambient Air Quality Guideline Values and Standards

Pollutants Short Term  Long Term
ug/Ncm ppm Averaging Time ug/Ncm ppm Averaging Time
Suspended Particulate Matter
24 hours
24 hours
1 year
1 year
Sulfur Dioxide 180 0.07 24 hours 80 0.03 1 year
Nitrogen Dioxide 150 0.08 24 hours
Photochemical Oxidants as Ozone 140
1 hour
8 hours
Carbon Monoxide 35 mg/Ncm
10 mg/Ncm
1 hour
8 hours
Lead 1.5 3 months 1.0 1 year


Air Pollution Clearances and Permits for Stationary Sources

  1. All sources of air pollution covered by the Clean Air Act must have a valid Permit to Operate issued by the DENR. New or modified sources must first obtain an Authority to Construct issued by the DENR.
  2. Kinds of applications:
    1. Authority to Construct;
    2. Permit to Operate;
    3. Transfer of an existing and valid Permit to Operate by reason of transfer of location of the installation or change of permittee or both;
    4. Revision of any existing and valid Authority to Construct or Permit to Operate involving alteration or replacement of the installation;
    5. Renewal of an expired Authority to Construct or Permit to Operate;
    6. Any other application for a permit not otherwise enumerated above.
  3. Grounds for suspension or revocation of permits
    1. Non-compliance with, or violation of any provision of the Clean Air Act;
    2. False or inaccurate information in the application for permit that led to the issuance of the permit;
    3. False or inaccurate information in the monitoring data or in reports required by the Permit to Operate;
    4. Refusal to allow lawful inspection conducted by the Department through the Bureau of duly authorized personnel;
    5. Non-payment of the appropriate fees
  4. Posting of Permit
    • The permit must be posted in a visible and accessible place at all times upon the installation of the emission source. No person shall willfully deface, alter, forge, counterfeit, or falsify any permit.
  5. Transfer of permits
    • In case of sale or legal transfer of a facility covered by a permit, DENR shall be notified of the new name and address thirty (30) days from the date of sale or transfer. The new owner has the duty to file an application for transfer of the permit in his name within ten (10) days from notification of the Department.
  6. Plant Operational Problems
    • In the event that the conditions of the Permit to Operate are not followed due to a breakdown, the owner or pollution control officer shall immediately notify DENR within 24 hours from occurrence of the breakdown. The notification should include the steps being taken to solve the problem and prevent its recurrence, the estimated duration of the breakdown, the intent toward reconstruction or repair of such installation. Likewise, the Department should also be informed when the failure or breakdown has been corrected and the source equipment or facility is again in operation.


Regulations for Emissions Sources

  1. Monitoring and reporting
    • The owner or the pollution control officer in charge shall keep a record of the equipment’s operational data and control test indicating its operational efficiency, and shall send a copy quarterly to the DENR.
  2. Financial Liability for Environmental Rehabilitation
    • Programs and projects that will contribute to air quality should have financial guarantee mechanisms to finance the needs for emergency response and clean-up rehabilitation of areas that may be damaged during the program or project’s actual implementation. Where damages are clearly attributed to the program or project, liability for damages shall continue even after its termination. Financial liability instruments may be in the form of a trust fund, environmental insurance, surety bonds, letters of credit, as well as self-insurance.
  3. Tax Incentives
    • Industries which install pollution control devices or retrofit their existing facilities with mechanisms that reduce pollution are entitled to tax incentives (i.e. tax credits and/or accelerated depreciation deductions)
  4. Record-Keeping, Inspection, Monitoring, and Entry
    • DENR may require any person who owns or operates an emission source to:
      1. establish and maintain relevant records;
      2. make relevant reports;
      3. install, use and maintain monitoring equipment or methods;
      4. sample emission, in accordance with the methods, locations, intervals and manner prescribed by the Environmental Management Bureau;
      5. keep records on control equipment parameters, production variables or other indirect data when direct monitoring of emissions is impractical; and
      6. provide such other information as the Environmental Management Bureau may reasonably require.
    • DENR also has the authority to:
      1. entry or access to any premises including documents and relevant materials
      2. inspect any pollution or waste source, control device, monitoring equipment or method required; and
      3. test any emission.


Pollution from Stationary Sources

Stationary sources refer to any trade, industry, process, fuel-burning equipment, or industrial plant emitting air pollutants. The concentration at the point of emission shall not exceed the limits set in Table 2.


Table 2. National Emission Standards for Source Specific Air Pollutants (NESSAP)

Pollutant Standard Applicable to Source Maximum Permissible Limits (mg/Ncm)
Antimony and its Compounds Any source 10 as Sb
Arsenic and its Compounds Any source 10 as As
Cadmium and its Compounds Any source 10 as Cd
Carbon Monoxide Any industrial source 500 as CO
Copper and its Compounds Any industrial source 100 as Cu
Hydrofluoric Acid and Fluoride Compounds Any source other than manufacture of Aluminum from Alumina 50 as HF
Hydrogen Sulfide
  1. Geothermal power plants
  2. Geothermal Exploration and Well Testing
  3. Any source other than I. and II.
  1. 150 g/GMW-Hr (constructed before January 1, 1995); 200 g/GMW-Hr (existing) as H2S
  2. Compliance with air and quality standards
  3. 7 as H2S
Lead Any trade, industry, or process 10 as Pb
Mercury Any source 5 as elemental Hg
Nickel and its Compounds (except Nickel Carbonyl) Any source 20 as Ni (Nickel Carbonyl shall not exceed 0.5 mg/Ncm)
  1. Manufacture of Nitric Acid
  2. Fuel Burning Steam Generators
    1. Existing sources
    2. New sources
  3. Diesel Powered Electricity Generators
  4. Any sources other than I, II, III
    1. Existing Source
    2. New Source
  1. 2,000 as acid & NO2 calculated as NO2
  2. Fuel burning steam generators
    1. 1,500 as NO2
    2. 1,000 as NO2 (coal fired); 500 as NO2 (oil fired)
  3. 2,000 as NO2
  4. Other sources
    1. 1,000 as NO2
    2. 500 as NO2
  1. Fuel Burning Equipment
    1. Urban and industrial area
    2. Other area
  2. Cement Plants
  3. Smelting Furnance
  4. Other Stationary Sources
  1. Fuel Burning Equipment
  1. 150
  2. 200
  1. 150
  2. 150
  3. 200
Phosphorus Pentoxide Any source 200 as P2O5
Sulfur Oxides
  1. Existing sources
    1. Manufacture of Sulfuric Acid and Sulfonation
    2. Fuel Burning Equipment
    3. Other Stationary Sources
  2. New Sources
    1. Manufacture of Sulfuric Acid and Sulfonation
    2. Fuel Burning Equipment
    3. Other Stationary Sources
  1. Existing sources
    1. 2,000 as SO3
    2. 1,500 AS SO2
    3. 1,000 AS SO3
  2. New Sources
    1. 1,500 as SO3
    2. 700 as SO2
    3. 200 as SO3
Zinc and its Compounds Any source 100 as Zn


Visible Emission Standards for Smoke and Opacity

  • The opacity of light or dark smoke emitted from any emission point in all stationary sources shall not appear darker than shade 1 on the Ringelmann Chart, nor exceed 20% opacity using USEPA Method 9


Miscellaneous Provisions and Equipment

  1. Stationary Fuel-Burning Equipment
    1. The owner, operator, or person in charge of a plant or equipment should make sure that at all times and without leaving the boiler room, furnace room, or control room, whether or not dark smoke is being discharged from any stack or such installation. This may be done through any of the following ways:
      1. View of the top of the stack may be seen from the window or opening of the boiler room, furnace room or control room;
      2. Using a mirror to see the reflection of the top of the stack;
      3. Installing a smoke density indicator and alarm
      4. A closed circuit television installation with the receiver located in the boiler room, furnace room, or control room
    2. All oil-burning equipment shall have heaters capable of heating oil to a temperature appropriate for the oil and burner.
    3. The following major industries are required to install continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) for particulates and sulfur oxide emissions:
      1. Fossil fuel-fired power plant over 10 MW rating (including NOx);
      2. Petroleum refinery, petrochemical industries (including NOx);
      3. Primary copper smelter (including NOx);
      4. Steel plant, ferro-alloy production facility (particulates only);
      5. Cement Plant (particulates only).
  2. Miscellaneous Equipment
    1. Re-heating furnaces, smoke ovens, bake ovens, coffee heaters, varnish kettles, paint booths and similar equivalent should be designed so that no free flow of objectionable gases are introduced to the atmosphere while operating.  To minimize the escape of smoke, odors, fly ash or fumes, appropriate air pollution control facilities shall be installed.

Content Agreement

Stationary sources who have exceeded the emission rate requirements of its Permit to Operate or as stated in other regulations may reduce their penalties or fines by entering into a Consent Agreement with the DENR. The responsible party is responsible for the following actions:

  1. Implement an Environmental Management System (EMS) within eighteen (18) months of entering into said agreement;
  2. Submit an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) derived from the EMS process within six (6) months of entering into a consent agreement. The EMP shall specify a timetable for attaining compliance with all environmental regulations as well as the means with which to accomplish compliance, with emphasis on pollution prevention methods (i.e. installation of pollution control devices);
  3. Post a performance bond, not exceeding P500,000 but not less than P50,000 depending on the size of the facility, which shall be forfeited upon failure to submit proof of an approved EMS within eighteen (18) months. An extension of not more than twelve (12) months may be allowed.

Failure of the stationary source to comply with the timetable specified in the consent agreement is sufficient ground for closure through a Cease and Desist Order (CDO). Further, the facility owner shall be subject to the reimposition of the original penalty (subject of the reduction) as well as additional appropriate penalties computed on a daily basis.


Pollution from Other Sources

The Clean Air Act also provides for regulations and provisions concerning other pollution sources. These include smoking and motor vehicles. There are corresponding prohibited acts, fines, and penalties for the management of these sources.


Prohibited Acts

  1. Fugitive Particulates.
    1. No person should allow for the emission of particulate matter from any source (i.e. vehicular movement, transportation of materials, construction, alternation, demolition or wrecking or industry related activities) without first taking reasonable precautions to prevent such emission. Such reasonable precaution shall include, the following:
      1. Use of water or chemicals for control of dust in the demolition of existing buildings or structure, construction, operations, the grinding of rock, quarry or clearing of lands;
      2. Application of asphalt, oil water, or suitable chemicals on roads, materials stockpiles, and other surfaces which create airborne dust problem;
      3. Installation and use of hoods fans and fabric filters or other suitable control devices to enclose and vent the handling of dusty materials.
    2. Volatile Organic Compounds or Organic Solvent Emissions
      1. No person shall store, pump, handle, process, unload or use in any process or installation, volatile compound or organic solvents without applying existing vapor emission control devices or systems.
    3. Nuisance
      1. No person shall discharge from any source quantities of air contaminants or other material which constitute nuisance.
    4. Open Burning
      1. No person, establishment, or entity shall be allowed to burn any materials in any quantities which shall cause the emission of toxic and poisonous fumes (i.e. plastic, polyvinyl chloride, paints, ink, wastes containing heavy metals, organic chemicals, petroleum related compound, industrial wastes, ozone depleting substances and other similar toxic and hazardous substances).
    5. General Restrictions
      1. No plant or source shall operate at capacities which exceed the limits of operation or capability of a control device to maintain the air emission within the standard limitations.
      2. No person shall build, erect, construct, install, or implant any new source, or operate, modify, or rebuild an existing source, which would result in ambient air concentration greater than the ambient air quality standards.
      3. No person shall build, erect, install or use any article, machine, equipment or other contrivance which will conceal an emission which violates a provision.
      4. No person shall cause or permit the installation or use of any device which conceals or dilutes any emission of air contaminant which would violate the provisions of permit regulations
      5. All pollution control devices and systems shall be properly and consistently maintained and correctly operated in order to maintain emission in compliance with provisions and standards.


Fines and Penalties 

A fine of not more than One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P 100,000.00) against the owner or operator of a stationary source will be imposed for every day of violating the air quality standards until such time that the standards have been complied with. Every three (3) years the fines are increased by at least ten percent (10%) to compensate for inflation and to maintain its deterrent function.

Gross Violations


  1. Three (3) or more specific offenses within a period of one (1) year;
  2. Three (3) or more specific offenses within three (3) consecutive years;
  3. Blatant disregard of the orders of the DENR (i.e. the breaking of seals, padlocks and other similar devices, or operating despite the existence of an order for closure, discontinuance or cessation of operation;
  4. Irreparable or grave damage to the environment as a consequence of any violation or omission of provisions

In case of gross violations, criminal charges will be filed against the violators. Offenders shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than six (6) years but not more than ten (10) years. If the offender is a juridical person, the president, manager, directors, trustees, the pollution control officer or officials directly in charge of the operations shall suffer the penalty herein provided.


Contributor: Marivic Arago
Brown & Green Environmental Services, Inc.