Metro Manila wakes up to new year with smog
MANILA, Philippines—Firecracker injuries welcoming 2012 went down by 13 percent compared with last year’s figure, but many residents woke up to a new problem—a thick blanket of smog spawned by the New Year revelry.
A number of flights had to be cancelled or diverted to Clark due to the smog, a type of air pollution that can be detrimental to children and the elderly, particularly those with respiratory conditions.
“Again, can you just imagine the repercussion of [the use of firecrackers] on health, the environment and also to business [and] even to endanger transportation especially air?” said Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
It also didn’t help that Sunday’s weather was dry and brought no wind, Ona said in a press conference on Sunday. “The smog is worsened by the fact that there’s no wind and no rain so it’s on a standstill.”
“It shows the extent of air pollution,” he said, adding that the DOH was expecting an increase in hospital admission or consultation among people with respiratory conditions and allergies due to the thick smog.
Ona has advised residents to drive out of the metropolis until the smog evaporates, which has been something he said he has been personally considering.
Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag also said it would be best for the public to stay indoors until the dissipation of the smog to avoid asthma attacks and allergies.
If going out, Tayag advised the public to wear face masks or breathe through a wet handkerchief or face towel.
He said exposure to smog can cause watery eyes, dry respiratory passages, runny nose and cough, which could lead to chronic bronchitis. Long exposure to smog can also exacerbate asthma attacks and can also cause lung cancer, he added.
Ona said that such occurrence must be part of the health agency’s consideration in coming up with a strategy that would not only reduce firecracker-related injuries but also ease the effects of firecracker-use on health and environment in the succeeding years.
He also noted that the government must also study the classification of fireworks since still half of the number of injuries were caused by so-called “legal fireworks.”
The piccolo, which has been banned in the market, was still the No. 1 culprit, accounting for 150 cases or 33 percent of the injuries.
But 228 injuries or 50 percent were due to fireworks allowed by law: “kwitis” accounted for 16 percent of firecracker-related injuries; fountain, 7 percent; five-star, 5 percent and “luces,” 5 percent.
“Still worrisome is the number of injuries from stray bullets… we really need to impose stricter control on indiscriminate firing of guns to avoid these injuries on hapless individuals,” said Ona.
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