'Respect your lungs, don’t use fireworks'
MANILA, Philippines – Days before New Year’s Eve, environmentalists and doctors warned Filipinos of the environmental and health impacts of using fireworks to welcome 2016.
"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 from the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).
Air pollution in Metro Manila typically soars to new heights on the first day of the New Year because of the firecrackers used the night before.
Last January 1, 2015 for instance, the concentration of dangerous particles in the air reached around 2,000 micrograms per normal cubic meter (mcg/ncm) in some parts of Metro Manila. That’s 33 times more than guideline value of 60 mcg/ncm for Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) or particles that remain in your nostrils.
The concentration is also 57 times more than the guideline value of 35 mcg/ncm for PM2.5 or particles small enough to enter the bronchial tubes of your lungs and cause severe respiratory diseases.
The New Year smog is particularly dangerous for children, the elderly, and individuals with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart ailments added Dorotheo.
Environmentalists from the EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public that such levels of air pollution point to a flagrant violation of the citizens’ right to clean air enshrined in the Clean Air Act.
Various government agencies, including the Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources, are carrying out campaigns to eliminate the use of fireworks during the holidays.
Malacañang Palace has asked the public to instead use noisemakers like horns (torotot), loud music, and pots (kaldero) to welcome the New Year.
But even 5 days before Christmas, the DOH already recorded at least 10 firecracker-related injuries in different parts of the country.
Piccolo – a firecracker deemed illegal under Republic Act No 7183 – was the most commonly used.
Animal rights advocates also asked the public to consider the adverse impacts of fireworks on pets like dogs and cats. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com
Fireworks image from Shutterstock