Latest Stories

Experts warn: Watch out for air pollution, harmful gases from firecrackers, pyroworks

If burns from accidental blasts of firecrackers don’t worry you, think of the air during New Year’s revelry.

Using firecrackers causes air pollution and can have long-term ill effects on one’s health, the departments of health and environment warn every year.

After a night of firing up Judas Belt firecrackers and other pyrotechnics, parts of Metro Cebu turn smoky like a battlefield.

Some families who can afford to get away spend New Year’s eve in the towns, away from the city to avoid breathing air full of chemical fumes that can aggravate an asthma or heart condition.

Appeals to go easy or eliminate the use of firecrackers that pollute the air are repeated every Christmas and New Year’s celebration.

Environment advocates urge the use of alternate noise-makers like blowing horns, shouting cheers, banging drums and pots, switching on the stereo, or looping an audio recording of pyrotechnics blasts.


Firecrackers and other pyrotechnic materials contain sulfur, charcoal and other ingredients that when ignited, react with oxidants in the air to form carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide that are known greenhouse gases, said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

These also increase the number of coarse particulates or pollutants that can complicate respiratory problems, he added.

Cold weather and cloudy skies over the country can trap the pollutants near the ground for a longer period.

People with respiratory or pulmonary problems such as asthma and pneumonia can also expect their conditions to worsen when they breathe in the dirty air.

Burning tires produces black oily smoke containing carbon monoxide and other poisonous metals such as zinc that are harmful to humans when inhaled.


One popular illegal firecracker, the “piccolo”, contains phosphorus, trinitrotoluene (TNT), potassium nitrate and potassium chlorate, all of which are harmful chemicals, said Dr. Franklin Diza of the DOH central office’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program.

If ingested or inhaled, phosphorus, one of the ingredients of firecrackers, has long-term ill effects on a person’s liver, he said.

The toxic dose for phosphorus, he explained, is at least 0.3 milligrams per kilogram body weight. A fatal dose is 50 milligrams or more.

This means a child weighing seven kilograms who ingests 0.3 milligrams of phosphorus, if not treated immediately, is likely to suffer from liver-related ailments in the future, he said.

Not all people who get injured by firecrackers or accidentally ingested firecracker ingredients bother to go to the hospital at all.

He said that if it were up to the DOH, there should be a total ban on firecrackers, but he said the firecrackers are only tolerated because they are already part of the country’s culture.


“There are no safe firecrackers. Even if we have laws that regulate the manufacture of firecrackers, most of the injuries that have recorded came from the legal firecrackers,” Diza said.

He said the government has no detailed product standards for the makeup of firecrackers.

He explained that Republic Act No. 7183, which governs the manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers, only states that every firecracker should contain not more than one-third teaspoon of gunpowder.

All the other components, such as chemical extenders or expanders, or even the ingredients that only serve to give weight to the firecracker, are not regulated by any standard.

These “other ingredients” are exposed to microbes and can easily infect injured people tetanus and other diseases, he said. /CDN RESEARCH


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: News

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  2. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  3. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  4. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  5. Solons seek ample protection for bank depositors
  6. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  7. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Tragedies at sea: The Sewol and the Costa Concordia
  10. Santiago: Gigi Reyes is Enrile’s fall guy
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  8. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  9. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia


  • Divers begin pulling bodies from sunken ferry in Korea
  • Aquino: ‘Doubting Thomases’ now contributing to PH recovery
  • Fire engulfs apartments in Sampaloc
  • Messy warehouse belongs to Unicef, WFP, says Soliman
  • Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels release hostage
  • Sports

  • Warriors beat Clippers in playoff opener
  • Pacquiao top Mayweather contender
  • Rain or Shine, Ginebra clash for No. 6 spot
  • Ateneo eyes quarterfinal spot vs Benilde
  • Style contrast marks OneFC ‘Rise of Heroes’
  • Lifestyle

  • Noli Yamsuan, Cardinal Sin’s ‘official’ photographer: ‘I could smell the aftershave lotion of the Pope’
  • Simplifying and lightening life
  • Where to go for Easter night-out
  • Joe de Venecia visits the Queen Mother of Cambodia
  • Fashionistas flock to designer’s wedding
  • Entertainment

  • Show-biz celebrities’ other choices of summer getaway
  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Business

  • Top-selling insurance agent opens her dream café
  • Connecting and transacting with one another
  • Building wealth for health
  • Why Mandaue Foam buys, rather than rents, space
  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Epiphany
  • Unpaid creditor vs distressed debtor
  • Moving on
  • From culinary desert to paradise
  • Response to China: ‘Usjaphil’
  • Global Nation

  • Asia seeks Obama’s assurance in territorial spats
  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • Marketplace