EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Public vs. Unhealthy, Air-Polluting Firecrackers and Fireworks

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
“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.