17 November 2009

EcoWaste Coalition Backs DOH's Call for Total Ban on Firecrackers

Quezon City. A health and environmental watchdog has thrown its support behind Health Secretary Duque’s call for a total ban on firecrackers, agreeing with the authorities that the toxic blast to greet the New Year is a public health hazard.

“We support a shift to a safer welcome of the New Year minus the cocktails of health and environment pollutants from firecrackers,” said Aileen Lucero, coordinator of the “Iwas PapuToxic” campaign of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Iwas PapuToxic” is an annual campaign by the EcoWaste Coalition to combat the toxic pollution stemming from the blasting and disposal of firecrackers, which complements the “Iwas Paputok” campaign by the Department of Health (DOH).

“We call on all Filipinos to rally behind the Health Department’s push to prevent the toxic mayhem that has been proven to be injurious and lethal to humans and animals and to the ecosystems,” stated Lucero.

“Given the very poor air quality, particularly in urban areas, we see no reason at all to add particulate matters and other harmful chemicals into the air that we breathe,” she added.

In addition to the massive air and noise pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition also lamented the post-revelry garbage from blasted firecrackers that only add to the volume and toxicity of holiday trash.

Roy Alvarez, actor and author of the environmental play “Pangarap, Panaginip, Bangungot,” (Hope, Dream, Nightmare) further urged the DOH to reconsider their proposal urging local authorities to designate a common area for exploding firecrackers or for displaying fireworks.

“This will not really rein in pollution and curb the bad use of either public or private funds for firecrackers and fireworks,” commented Alvarez (a Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition), adding that funds spent for the polluting activities are better used for healthy and nutritious meals and other basic necessities.

The DOH, the EcoWaste Coalition, church other civil society groups, including animal welfare groups, have long been seeking a concerted response to address physical impairments and deaths, chemical contamination, noise pollution and garbage associated with blasting firecrackers.

According to the DOH’s National Epidemiology Center, there were 733 firecracker-related injuries from December 21, 2008 to January 5, 2009.

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