Aside from firework-related injuries, the Department of Health (DOH) is also watching out for respiratory diseases that can result from smoke produced by fireworks and firecrackers.
DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy on Tuesday said smoke and other air pollutants during New Year can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory troubles.
“We advise the public, especially those with existing respiratory conditions, to wear a mask or use shirts to cover their nose and mouth when going out of the house to prevent attacks. Staying inside the house can also help. If a person is really having difficulty with breathing, then bring him to the hospital,” Lee Suy added.
The Health department is advocating a total ban on fireworks and firecrackers to reduce the number of injuries and casualties in the country during the holiday season.
It has repeatedly recommended use of alternative noisemakers to celebrate the New Year.
The Ecowaste Coalition and the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) also urged the public to cut down use of firecrackers and fireworks “to minimize health-damaging toxic emissions” in urban areas such as Metro Manila.
“The pervasive use of firecrackers and fireworks contributes to air pollution that reaches levels deemed hazardous to human health. The particulate matter 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 diseases and heart ailments,” Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo, PMA Environment Health and Ecology Committee chairman, said in a statement also on Tuesday.
Last January, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported that the air pollution in some parts of Metro Manila reached “hazardous levels,” rising to up to 2,000 micrograms per normal cubic meter (mcg/ncm), because of firecracker smoke accumulated during the New Year.
This, the DENR said, went way above the National Ambient Guideline Value of 60mcg/ncm for PM 10, and 35 mcg/ncm for PM 2.5.
“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,” Aileen Lucero, Ecowaste Coalition Coordinator, said in the statement.
Republic Act 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 was enacted to promote and protect the global environment, as well as advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthy ecology.