The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network, and the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP), an association of pulmonologists, today jointly warned the public about the health hazards posed by firecrackers and fireworks.
Together with Buklod Tao, a community organization, the EcoWaste Coalition and the PCCP held a “Gas Mask Action” at Welcome Rotonda in Quezon City to illustrate the toxicity of gaseous emissions resulting from the massive explosion of pyrotechnic devices to hail the New
Donning gas masks, the clean air advocates warned that the environmental pollution from the use of firecrackers and fireworks pose serious health risks, including respiratory problems such as bronchial asthma, allergic or chronic bronchitis, laryngitis, rhinitis and sinusitis, especially for babies and children and other vulnerable population groups.
“The levels of pollutants in the atmosphere rise to unparalleled levels throughout post-New Year revelries due to the widespread blasting of firecrackers and fireworks shows,” said pulmonologist Dr. Maricar Limpin, former President of PCCP.
“The minute particles, metal oxides, greenhouse gases and other contaminants from the warlike festivities aggravate the air quality, putting the health of the people, especially babies and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those afflicted with chronic asthma, at risk,” she explained.
Community leader Noli Abinales observed that “thick smoke engulfs our neighborhoods as if it’s totally okay for New Year revellers to dirty the air, let people choke on firecracker fumes and get away with it.”
For her part, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, pointed out that “the all-out pollution from the New Year revelry is a brazen violation of our right to breathe clean air, and goes against local and global efforts to curb climate pollution.”
R.A. 8749, or the Clean Air Act, recognizes and guarantees the enjoyment of the people’s right to breathe clean air, she pointed out.
Lucero also called attention to the toxic residual waste from the use of pyrotechnic devices that are either dumped or burned in violation of R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which prohibits littering, open dumping and open burning of discards.
In lieu of firecrackers and fireworks, the groups suggested the use of alternative noise makers that emit no toxic fumes such as torotot, pot and pan covers, empty cans, musical instruments and the like.
They further suggested that the money intended for pyrotechnic devices be given instead to ongoing humanitarian aid and rehabilitation efforts in the Yolanda-stricken areas in the Visayas.