Celebrating the New Year with health and safety in mind
AS THE national and local government au thorities brace for New Year Eve’s revelry amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the need for a decisive national ban on firecrackers and fireworks. While recognizing the moves taken by some local government units (LGUs) to strictly regulate or completely ban the use of firecrackers and fireworks in welcoming the New Year, the group expressed its support for a more encompassing prohibition to halt the pattern of injuries, deaths, fires, and toxic pollution due to these non-essential products. “It’s high time for our society to celebrate the New Year and other festive occasions differently with health and safety foremost in our minds. We hope President Duterte's plan to impose a total ban on firecrackers by 2021 will cover fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices, too,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. “For the longest time, we have become accustomed to the bloody mayhem, raucous noise and massive pollution due to the use of firecrackers, fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices during the New Year’s Eve merrymaking as if our health and that of Mother Earth does not matter,” he said. “As there really is no truth behind the oft-cited reason that firecrackers and fireworks can drive away bad luck or scare away evil spirits, we urge all communities and families to choose a healthier, safer and cleaner merrymaking to usher in 2021,” he added. Dizon also pointed out that banning firecrackers and fireworks will be in line with the state policies to “protect and promote the right to health of the people” and to “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology” as stated in the Constitution. Specifically, banning firecrackers and fireworks will contribute to the enforcement of several environmental, health and animal protection laws, including the Clean Air Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Water Act, Climate Change Act, and the Animal Welfare Act. In pushing for a total ban on firecrackers and fireworks, the group cited the following reasons to justify such action: 1. Firecrackers and fireworks cause serious, if not fatal, injuries to users as well as to spectators. 2. Firecrackers and fireworks generate carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. 3. Firecrackers and fireworks produce toxic fumes that exacerbate the air quality and aggravate respiratory and cardiovascular episodes. 4. Firecrackers and fireworks generate tons of toxic-laced non-reusable and non-recyclable discards disposed of in streets, waterways, dumpsites and landfills. 5. Firecrackers and fireworks can lead to fires. 6. Firecrackers and fireworks create thick smog resulting in poor visibility, causing public safety hazards. 7. Firecrackers and fireworks produce earsplitting noise that is painful for animals, especially to cats and dogs. 8. Firecrackers and fireworks burn hardearned money for a few minutes of entertainment that is better spent for food, clothing, books, medicines and other necessities. Also, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the authorities to prepare a plan - with input from concerned stakeholders—that will provide alternative jobs and livelihoods for workers in the affected industry. Have a toxics-free and Covid-safe welcome of the New Year!