As the countdown to the New Year
approaches, various groups on Sunday drew attention to the health-damaging
pollutants discharged from the blasting of firecrackers and fireworks.
emission-free welcome of the New Year, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Our Lady
of Remedies Parish Care for the Earth Ministry and Children’s Ministry held
an“Iwas PapuToxic” campaign in front of the Malate Catholic Church that also
saw doctors from the Philippine College of Chest Physicians and Philippine
Medical Association attending.
As if in the midst of a chemical disaster, some of the children and youth
participants wore authentic gas masks to illustrate how “very unhealthy” the
air can turn with the warlike detonation of firecrackers and fireworks,
especially during the New Year’s eve.
“The pervasive pollution is lamentable knowing that country’s quest for
clean air is yet to be won. A New Year’s celebration promoting a clean and safe
environment, the sanctity of life and a culture of peace is the call of the
hour,” said Father John Leydon, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Remedies
“The pyrotechnic explosions create a toxic brew of injurious pollutants
affecting the air quality and consequently the health of people, particularly
infants and young children and those afflicted with heart and respiratory
diseases,” noted Aileen Lucero, Iwas PapuToxic Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The marked increase of particulate matter in the atmosphere can cause nose,
throat, chest and eye problems and aggravate the conditions of people suffering
from allergies, coughs and colds,” said Dr. Maricar Limpin, former President,
Philippine College of Chest Physicians.
Exposure to firecrackers and fireworks can further cause a host of respiratory
problems such as bronchial asthma, allergic or chronic bronchitis, laryngitis,
pneumonia and rhinitis, Dr. Limpin, a pulmonologist said.
The groups expressed serious concern over a possible recurrence of the “very
unhealthy” air quality as experienced by Metro Manila residents on January 1,
2012 in the aftermath of the last New Year’s revelry.
Citing data from the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources–Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), nine real time
particulate matter (PM) monitoring stations exceeded the 24-hour guideline
value of 150 ug/m3 on January 1, 2012. The average PM10 recorded was 352 ug/m3.
As for the total suspended particulate (TSP), eight of the nine monitoring
stations went above the 24-hour guideline value of 230 ug/m3 on January 1,
2012. The average TSP recorded was 477.67 ug/m3.
According to the DENR-EMB, the prevailing weather condition during and after
the 2012 New Year’s celebration, particularly the low ambient temperature, low
wind velocity and low laying clouds, triggered the air pollution episode and
even contributed to low visibility.
the PM10 and TSP levels have reached the “very unhealthy” levels as per the air
quality index (AQI), the DENR-EMB should have, in accordance with the Clean Air
Act, issued cautionary health statements that say: “Pedestrian should avoid
heavy traffic areas. People with heart or respiratory disease such as asthma
should stay indoors and rest as much as possible. Unnecessary trips should be
postponed. People should voluntarily restrict the use of vehicles,” the groups
Given the importance of informing the public about the state of air pollution
and its impact to health, the groups urged the government to monitor the air
quality on December 31 and January 1, disseminate the generated data and issue
appropriate advisories based on the AQI cautionary statements.
“Iwas Paputok and Air Quality,” DOH, 2012.
Administrative Order 2011-0301” re“Health Advisory on the Potential Toxic
Health Effects of Firecrackers and Pyrotechnics.”