Medical doctors and environmental advocates jointly urged the general public to hail the New Year using alternative noisemakers in lieu of firecrackers and fireworks to minimize health-damaging toxic emissions, particularly in urban centers like Metro Manila.
In support of the Department of Health-led “Iwas Paputok” campaign, the Philippine Medical Association and the EcoWaste Coalition sought the cooperation of the public to cut the unparalleled environmental pollution caused by the blasting of firecrackers, as well as the burning of used tires and garbage during and after the festivities.
"Aside from the well-reported firecracker-related injuries, the pervasive use of firecrackers and fireworks contributes to air pollution that reaches levels deemed hazardous to human health," said Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, Chair of PMA's Environment Health and Ecology Committee.
"The particulate matter (PM) and other air pollutants from the detonation of firecrackers and fireworks will worsen our air quality, posing health risks, especially among children, the elderly, and individuals with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart ailments," he said.
Citing data from the monitoring conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the groups said that air pollution soared to “dangerous levels” at the height of the New Year’s revelry last year.
As per DENR monitoring, the levels of PM 1O and PM 2.5 in some areas in Metro Manila rose to up to 2,000 micrograms per normal cubic meter, way above the National Ambient Guideline Value of 60 mcg/ncm for PM 10, and 35 mcg/ncm for PM 2.5. Based on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s
guideline, air quality is “unhealthy” at over 100 mcg/ncm and is “hazardous” at 300 mcg/ncm.
“The extreme pollution from the unrestrained blasting of firecrackers and fireworks goes against the Clean Air Act, which recognizes the right of every citizen to breathe clean air,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The burning or dumping of hazardous waste from spent firecrackers and fireworks also violates the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, which bans open dumping and open burning to protect the public health and the environment,” she pointed out.
Dorotheo and Lucero urged New Year revellers to be happy with torotot (trumpet) and home-made noisemakers that create no toxic fumes and wastes.
“For a change, let us welcome 2016 in a safe and non-toxic way that will not inflict harm on humans, animals and the environment,” they said.
“DOH Administrative Order 2011-0301” re “Health Advisory on the Potential
Toxic Health Effects of Firecrackers and Pyrotechnics.”