Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Group urges DOH to update banned firecrackers list

The Department of Health (DOH) should update its "black list" of banned firecrackers in time for the upcoming New Year celebration to further minimize injuries among revelers welcoming 2011.

In a letter sent to Health Secretary Enrique Ona, the EcoWaste Coalition asked the Health department to include in its "black list" more types of dangerous fireworks, such as the following:

* atomic big triangulo
* piccolo
* kwitis
* luces
* five-star
* PVC bazooka, cannons or guns

Based on the Philippine National Police's 2007 list, the following firecrackers are already banned:

* Lolo Thunder
* Super Lolo
* Bawang (large)
* Pla-pla
* Watusi
* Kwiton
* Giant Whistle
* Judas Belt (large)
* Og
* Atomic Bomb

“We are keen to collaborate with the DOH in achieving our shared purpose of minimizing, if not eliminating, the risks and hazards posed by firecrackers to life, limb and property, and to the ecosystems as a whole," wrote Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition.

The environmental group also asked for strict implementation of the ban on imported firecrackers and fireworks under Section 6 of Republic Act 7183 or An Act Regulating the Sale, Manufacture, Distribution and Use of Firecracker and Other Pyrotechnic Devices. (See: Coast Guard's K-9 unit foils attempt to smuggle firecrackers)

The other proposals suggested by the group to Secretary Ona include:

1. Giving an environmental slant to the campaign against firecrackers, by emphasizing the need to reduce harmful smoke, litter and noise that can aggravate and endanger the health of humans and animals.

2. Issuing a health advisory on noise pollution as the result of exploding firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices. (See: Two months before Christmas, DOH issues paputok warnings)

3. Pushing to declare church, school, hospital, zoo and public market areas as “silence zones," where the exploding of firecrackers will be strictly forbidden. (See: DILG orders inspection of firecracker factories)

The environmental coalition urged the government to further push the anti-firecrackers campaign by tapping celebrities to make public appeals on the issue.

In the past, the group's “Iwas-PapuToxic" events had attracted thousands of young students from Krus na Ligas Elementary School, Esteban Abada Elementary School, Claret School, and the Marcelo H. del Pilar Elementary School.

The group has also partnered with the Miss Earth Foundation, Ministry of Ecology of the Our Lady of Remedies Parish in Malate, and with animal rights groups to convince the public to use safe and emission-free noisemakers, instead of firecrackers.

The Health department earlier recorded close to 1,000 revelry-related injuries in the first four days of January 2010, which are 190 cases more than in 2009. (See: Revelry-related injuries now at 920 — DOH)

Almost 900 of these cases involved injuries from fireworks and 42 injuries from stray bullets.


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