Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental group addressing waste pollution, chemical and climate issues, warned Filipinos about the health hazards posed by blasting firecrackers and fireworks a few hours before New Year celebrations erupt with these air-polluting pyrotechnics.
According to the group, environmental pollution produced by firecrackers and fireworks explosion poses severe respiratory ailments such as bronchial asthma, allergic or chronic bronchitis, laryngitis, pneumonia, rhinitis and sinusitis, particularly for babies, children, pregnant women, elderly and other vulnerable population groups.
In addition, exposure to air pollution marked by an increase in suspended particulate matter including minute particles, heavy metal oxides, greenhouse gases and other contaminants, may initiate or exacerbate a host of cardiovascular diseases, which consistently remain as the leading cause of diseases and death in the country.
An increased number of minute particles and suffocating gases in the air can also trigger eye, chest, nose and throat problems and aggravate the conditions of people suffering from allergies, cough and colds.
“Prevalent blasting of firecrackers and other pyrotechnics increase the levels of pollutants in the atmosphere during New Year revelries, affecting air quality and consequently, people’s health, especially infants, young children and those afflicted with various cardiovascular and respiratory diseases,” noted Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
The group expressed serious concern over a likely recurrence of an air quality detrimental to public health as experienced by Metro Manila residents on January 1, 2014 in the aftermath of last New Year’s festivity.
Citing data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources–Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), the volume of pollutive particulate matter 10 microns (PM 10) and below between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on January 1, 2014, reached an average of 1,550 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm), which is almost 10 times above the acceptable 24-hour national air quality guideline of 150 ug/Ncm.
According to the DENR-EMB, the usual weather condition during and after the 2014 New Year’s celebration, particularly the low ambient temperature, low wind velocity and low laying clouds, triggered the air pollution incident and even contributed to low visibility.
“Widespread pollution during these times not only contravenes ongoing local and global efforts to control climate pollution, but also violates our basic right to clean air as safeguarded under the Clean Air Act,” said Lucero.
R.A. 8749 or the Clean Air Act recognizes and ensures the people’s right to breathe clean air.
“We urge the public to shun away from this toxic tradition and instead use recycled alternative noisemakers such as torotot, pot and pan covers, empty cans, maracas and other musical instruments,” Lucero added.
The group further suggested that the money intended for buying pyrotechnics be donated instead to the continuing humanitarian aid and rehabilitation in the typhoon-stricken areas in the Visayas.