Peña: Cleaner air this New Year’s day 2018?

EVERY New Year’s day, the air is polluted. No thanks to fireworks which release toxic fumes and the millions of firecrackers that are used in almost every street on New Year’s Eve. In the first day of the year, pollution levels are dangerously high and many times over world health standards.

During the last New Year’s celebration, the monitoring station at the De La Salle University (DLSU) in Manila recorded a PM2.5 level of 448 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm), while pollution levels in the cities of Paranaque, Taguig, Valenzuela and Muntinlupa were 433, 324, 285 and 175 ug/Ncm, respectively. As of 2 a.m. of the same day, the air quality monitoring stations in Pasig City and the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City recorded PM2.5 levels of 397 and 369 ug/Ncm, respectively.

The PM2.5 levels in the cities mentioned fall under the category of extremely dangerous. The healthy guideline values for PM2.5 is only 25 ug/Ncm annually and 50 ug/Ncm for 24-hour averaging

Would it be different this time? President Duterte released Executive Order No. 28, which regulates and control the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices. The highlight of the EO is this:

“To minimize the risk of injuries and casualties, the use of firecrackers shall henceforth be confined to community fireworks displays. A display of fireworks qualifies as a community fireworks display if it complies with all of the following conditions:

a. It is conducted on the occasion or as part of a celebration, competition, or similar event held in a venue other than a place of residence; b. It is conducted under the supervision of a trained person duly licensed by the PNP; and c. It is allowed by the municipality/city concerned through a permit specifying the date and time of the fireworks display and the specific area in which the display will be conducted, in conformity with national standards, rules and regulations.”

There is a clause however that says “pyrotechnic devices other than firecrackers may be used outside community fireworks displays subject to existing laws, rules and regulations”. Does this mean that sparklers and fountains maybe used anywhere? Well, given that some fountains also release mini-fireworks, they might also be restricted for use in designated areas.

And so to make sure that your New Year’s revelry will not be spoiled by law enforcement authorities, ask your local police or barangay officials for your designated community fireworks display area. Just wondering though, if the EO will be strictly implemented, jails will not be enough to accommodate all those who will be arrested.

While the intent of the EO is to minimize, if not eliminate deaths and injuries from the use of firecrackers, the environment is also a beneficiary. A clean air is good for everyone, especially for those suffering from lung-related health conditions like asthma and COPD.

Happy New Year everyone!
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