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EcoWaste Coalition: Welcome 2024 without Injuries, Fires, Pollutants and Garbage

Caloocan City/Quezon City. As 2023 draws to a close, the zero waste and toxics-free advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition exhorted the general public to refrain from lighting firecrackers and fireworks to ensure public safety and environmental health, especially during the boisterous countdown to the New Year.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its appeal for “Iwas Paputoxic” at a community program and parade in Caloocan City co-organized by Barangay 176 (the country’s most populous barangay) and the Partnership for Clean Air (PCA). “Paputoxic” is a blend word introduced by the group combining “paputok” (firecrackers) and “toxic.”

Joining the timely advocacy event were barangay, fire and police representatives, as well as e-waste dismantlers from the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa Bagong Silang (SMBS) and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa San Vicente Ferrer Camarin, Caloocan City (SMSVFCCC).

Iwas Paputoxic
IWAS PAPUTOXIC: With New Year just around the corner, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition ramps up its campaign for safer and cleaner celebrations without firecrackers and fireworks at Barangay 176 in Caloocan City. The group urges citizens to play music or use alternative noisemakers that will not cause injuries, fires, garbage and pollution.

“We can make this year’s celebrations of the New Year safer for our people and kinder to the environment, including the animals, by choosing not to detonate firecrackers and fireworks,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Opting for an emission-free and waste-free welcome to 2024 is only logical and necessary amid the triple planetary crisis (climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution) facing the Filipino people and the rest of humanity.”

“The health and well-being of the people, especially the children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, should be a top priority over a hazardous tradition that has become associated with bloody injuries, accidental fires, and chemical and waste pollutants,” she emphasized.

“Kaisa kami ng Caloocan City Government, DILG, DOH at EcoWaste Coalition sa pagtataguyod sa ligtas at payapang pagsalubong sa 2024. Mababawasan ang disgrasya, sunog, usok at kalat kung ang bawat isa, lalo na ang mga bata, ay iiwas sa pagpapaputok,” said Punong Barangay Joel Bacolod.

Iwas Paputoxic

Addressing the crowd assembled, PCA President Rene Pineda said: “The unseen health hazard of air pollution brought about by lighting firecrackers and fireworks far outweighs the momentary spectacle of revelry. Toxic fumes emitted by these explosives often contain complex chemical compounds that may lead to respiratory tract infections and even death to vulnerable sectors like the elderly, children and pregnant women. Prolonged exposure to these toxic chemicals may cause or exacerbate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which can be deleterious to fatal.”

Among these toxic air emissions are suspended particulate matter, heavy metals, and gaseous pollutants, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide.

Aside from respiratory health problems, firecrackers and fireworks have been blamed for anatomic injuries involving the eyes, legs and, most especially, hands, which may require amputations. Most of the victims are young children with most of the recorded injuries due to the use of boga, piccolo, luces, five-star and triangulo.

Instead of firecrackers and fireworks, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to usher in the New Year by simply playing music or using substitute noisemakers such as pots and pans, piggy banks, improvised maracas and tambourines, and other available alternatives.

“Torotots” made of paper or plastic should be used by children with caution and with adult supervision, noting that poorly made ones can cause 1) choking due to the accidental ingestion of the horn’s mouthpiece or whistle, 2) cuts due to the sharp edges of the horn’s bell, and 3) hearing problems due to loud sounds.

The EcoWaste Coalition further reminded the public that burning used tires during the revelry is forbidden by law as it can generate a cocktail of harmful air contaminants, including particulates, greenhouse gases, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants, which can cause dizziness, asthma and heart attacks, as well as respiratory health problems.

EcoWaste Coalition
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