Toxic watchdog group BAN Toxics, together with the Barangay Council of Brgy. Ibayo-Tipas in Taguig City, conducted an “Iwas Paputok” community outreach program and parade to raise awareness on the health and environmental impact of firecrackers and fireworks among children in the community this New Year’s Eve.
With the theme “Iwas Paputok, Iwas Disgrasya, Iwas Polusyon,” local officials headed by Brgy. Captain Erwin Mendiola and the Barangay Council, BAN Toxics, different community groups, and more than 800 residents of Barangay Ibayo-Tipas paraded along the streets wearing different costumes to portray the blasting effects of firecrackers and fireworks. This was done to encourage the community to not use any firecrackers and fireworks during New Year festivities.
“Sa pagsalubong natin sa bagong taon na 2023, unahin natin ang ibayong pag-iingat para sa ating kalusugan, kapaligiran at kaligtasan. Sama-sama po tayo sa selebrasyon na may ligtas at masayang pamilya,” said Erwin C. Mendiola, Barangay Captain of Barangay Ibayo-Tipas, Taguig City.
(As we welcome the new year, let’s prioritize protecting the safety of our health and the environment. Let’s celebrate together with a safe and happy family.)
In 2015, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued Joint Memorandum Circular 2015-143, “Regulating the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers, polyvinyl pipe ‘BOGA’ and other pyrotechnic devices, and adoption of advocacy campaigns and preventive measures from firecracker and firework injuries or death and damage of properties.”
The said circular directed all concerned local government units, Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Bureau of Customs to implement and observe respective roles and responsibilities to prevent firecracker and firework injuries, death, and damage to properties during the holiday season.
Barangay units, through their respective Barangay Captains, must conduct massive advocacy and information dissemination within their area of jurisdiction, and ensure the regulation of sale, manufacture, distribution and use of fireworks and pyrotechnic devices are compliant to the ordinance.
To prevent firecracker-related injury and safely welcome 2023, BAN Toxics reiterated its call to the public to shift from the tradition of lighting firecrackers and fireworks to a safer and healthier celebration by promoting alternative noise makers. This will ensure the protection of the environment and human health, especially children.
“It is high time for Barangays and communities to show their support in this campaign and advocate for a safer and healthier celebration to welcome the new year. Both firecrackers and fireworks are known toxics and are highly dangerous to human health and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner of BAN Toxics.
The chemicals and substances present in firecrackers includes cadmium, lead, chromium, aluminum, magnesium, nitrates, nitrite, phosphates and sulfates, carbon monoxide, copper, manganese dioxide, potassium, sodium, zinc, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur. Exposure to these toxic chemicals can potentially damage the nervous and respiratory system.
According to the DOH Fireworks-Related Injury Surveillance 2021, a total of 189 fireworks-related injuries were reported in 2021, 188 of which were due to fireworks. The sole outlier was from a stray bullet. This was 54% higher compared to 2020 (123 cases) and 55% lower than the five-year average (416 cases) during the same time period.
“Through this campaign, we can achieve zero firecrackers and fireworks-related injuries. To protect human and wildlife health, as well as the environment, initiatives like this will have to start at the barangay and community levels. Likewise, a strong community participation is imperative to push for a safer and healthier celebration of New Year’s Eve,” BAN Toxics added.