The blues of New Year celebrations

limb gone 1
The price one has to pay for lighting firecrackers.
What a tragedy!

Seven-year-old hit by stray bullet

Boy killed, over 400 hurt in Philippine revelry

Year after year, these are the typical scenario in many areas, and the “expected” headlines in most news programs, during New Year celebration in the Philippines.  At the height of merrymaking and noise, someone has to mourn and some have to squirm in pain!

Filipinos are fond of lighting firecrackers to greet each new year, and each new year, too, is not without wailing among those who get hurt, and among the mourning individuals who suddenly have to lose loved ones to stray bullets or strong pyrotechnics.  The Department of Health (DOH) is not short of giving reminders and warnings about the dangers of firecrackers.

But who listens, anyway?

Does it have to be always like this on New Year's Eve?
Does it have to be always like this on Christmas and New Year’s Eve?

Well, many of those who experienced losing a limb, or more, have refrained from using firecrackers.  But some are still adamant about giving up the dangerous habit of lighting illegal firecrackers during the Christmas and New Year seasons. For them, the stronger the blast, the merrier – for as long as they are not the victims, that is!  The trigger happy are even  not content with the strongest firecrackers available. They rather opt to use real firearms.  For what? Only they know what their real motives are.   These are the individuals who do not care for themselves, for others, and for the environment, at all! What else could be done to awaken these people’s hearts and minds about the dangers of firecrackers?

Nevertheless, just like the DOH that keeps on repeating year after year its call against the use of dangerous pyrotechnics, let me also share with you the impact of firecrackers on humans, animals, and the environment.

fireworks illegal
Fireworks may seem fun, but…
  • The smoke produced by firecrackers are highly detrimental to human health and the environment, specifically because these contain chemicals, such as: copper compounds, which cause irritation to the respiratory tract; lead, which can severely affect the nervous system; zinc, which can cause metal fume fever and induce vomiting; sodium, and; cadmium.
  • The green color effects generated by pyrotechnic displays are due to its barium content, which is actually radioactive and poisonous; while the blue color effects is generated by the copper compounds, which contain dioxins – chemicals associated with cancer ailments.
  • Its smoke can trigger asthma and other sensitivities.  Even the smoke of the smallest sparklers and torches can severely affect the respiratory tract of young children.
  • Firecrackers causes air pollution. When inhaled, the smog from pyrotechnic displays, may cause respiratory ailments among humans.
  • Irresponsible use of fireworks and firearms pose threat to the people using them as well as the innocent members of the public. The headlines in most, if not all, newspapers, radio, and TV news on New Year’s Day can prove this.
  • Children are more than ten times likely to get hurt by firecrackers.  Most often than not, these children are not really directly involved in the lighting of firecrackers.  Based on the accounts of adults whose children are brought to hospitals for treatment, these kids were just playing nearby or have innocently picked up  undischarged pyrotechnics.
  • Not only does it hurt the young, but firecrackers can even cause harm to adults, especially to those who stay too close to the fireworks.
  • Most of the injuries during Christmas and New Year revelry are attributed to firecrackers, rockets, and sparklers.
  • Fireworks cause noise pollution.  It creates noise beyond the allowed decibel limit; thus, hurting the ears, causing deafness or tinnitus.
  • People who have health conditions may suffer from the effects of firecracker explosions.  Epileptics are found to be more likely to develop seizures when exposed to its smoke.  The suspended particulate matter (SPM) can irritate the throat, nose and eyes that may eventually lead to serious health problems.  People with heart problems, respiratory tract condition, and nervous system disorder may be severely affected by the chemicals released by firecrackers.
  • Firecrackers can ignite clothing, light building materials, and other properties.
  • Many of the manufactured fireworks fail to meet basic quality and safety standards. Therefore, they are highly risky, not to mention illegal.  The recent turnout of raids conducted by the Philippine National Police can prove this.
  • Production of fireworks can also claim lives of the workers.  Studies have shown that the  mortality rate of gunpowder explosions in factory accidents remain high.
  • Fireworks also affect animals and wildlife. Just as it is detrimental to human health, explosive fireworks do cause immense fear and stress among animals.
  • Aside from affecting humans and animals, fireworks also causes air, water, and land pollution. As a pyrotechnic explodes, it releases poisonous particles into the air that eventually contaminates the water systems.  It is even a contributing factor to acid rains.
  • It damages the ozone layer.
  • There were even incidents where fireworks started grass and forest fires.

Another sad fact, most firecracker factories employ child laborers, which is against the law. Besides, at their tender age, they are exposed to toxic substances, making them vulnerable to diseases.

My question is: do we really need to use firecrackers for merrymaking? Can we not welcome Christmas and New Year without those firecrackers?  Or, is it rightful to ban firecrackers altogether?  The decision is ours, citizens of the world!  It is unfair to blame the government for not having curbed the use of firecrackers.  Discipline should rather start from each one of us.

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