Shun Firecrackers and Fireworks to Reduce Toxic Air Pollution

A medical health expert and an environmental health advocate exhorted all Filipinos to turn away from the dangerous tradition of blasting firecrackers and fireworks to prevent harmful chemicals from polluting the atmosphere.

In a press statement issued a few days before the boisterous New Year’s Eve festivities, pulmonologist Dr, Maricar Limpin and environmentalist Thony Dizon both encouraged the public to ring in 2020 without generating pollutants that can put human health at risk.

“Blowing up firecrackers and fireworks generates microscopic pollutants that affect the quality of the air we breathe and thus pose serious health risks, particularly among children, the elderly, and persons with cardiovascular, neurological and respiratory conditions.  Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, as well as asthma and heart attacks, are some of the negative effects of inhaling these pollutants,” said Limpin who is Secretary of the Philippine College of Physicians.

Among these harmful airborne pollutants from firecracker explosions and fireworks displays are suspended particulate matter (SPM), including PM 2.5 that can travel deep into the respiratory tract and the lungs, carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases, heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and lead, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

“Lason sa baga ang binubuga ng paputok (firecrackers spew fumes that poison the lungs).  Exposure to these pollutants can trigger or worsen respiratory problems, including allergic or chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, laryngitis, pneumonia, rhinitis, and sinusitis,” Limpin warned.

Dizon, who is the Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, added that “aside from the toxic smog, the blasting of firecrackers and fireworks scatter hazardous litter on streets as well as on water bodies.”

“Spent firecrackers and fireworks are not your typical discards as these contain traces of dangerous chemicals that may contaminate the environment or cause harm to wildlife,” he said.

“In spite of their hazardous makeup, discards from firecrackers and fireworks used during the New Year’s Eve revelry are disposed of as general waste and buried in dumps and landfills,” he lamented.

In addition to chemical and waste pollution, Dizon also drew attention to the extreme noise pollution caused by firecrackers and fireworks that can very well exceed the standard noise level of 50 to 60 decibels for the ambient environment,  which may cause temporary or permanent  hearing loss, high blood pressure, restlessness and sleep disturbance.

To prevent chemical, waste and noise pollution that can cause damage to human health and the ecosystems, Limpin and Dizon sought public support for a safe and responsible celebration of the New Year sans firecrackers and fireworks.