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Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is urging Filipinos to help build a fresh tradition of welcoming the New Year without the pollution and danger from firecrackers and fireworks.

“Let the culture change we seek to create in the Boracay and Manila Bay rehabilitations likewise give birth to a New Year celebration that is safe and environment-friendly,” Cimatu said.

To make this possible, the environment chief said the public must shun firecrackers and fireworks as these traditional ways of welcoming the change of the calendar cause pollution and pose serious safety and health risks.

“I believe that every single one of us can contribute in fighting air pollution by simply not using firecrackers and pyrotechnics that can cause immediate and extensive air pollution,” he said.

According to Cimatu, the New Year‘s Eve celebration represents one of the most unusual atmospheric pollution events in the course of the year due to massive use of firecrackers and fireworks.

Instead of using pyrotechnics and firecrackers, Cimatu urged the public to switch to eco-friendly alternatives to ring in 2020.

“There are some good alternatives to usher in the New Year with a bang, such as street parties, musical concerts, playing loud music, blowing horns and banging pots,” he pointed out.

Cimatu’s call for a fresh tradition in welcoming the New Year was consistent with his belief that culture change is necessary to improve and protect the environment.

He earlier recognized that changing people’s attitude and behavior towards the environment was the most difficult part in rehabilitating Manila Bay.

Aside from causing fire accidents, pyrotechnics and firecrackers contain harmful chemicals like lead, aluminum and cadmium, and leave metal particles, dangerous toxins and smoke in the air for hours or days.

Exposure to these is linked to negative health implications, such as coughing, wheezing, asthma attacks and even heart attacks, according to the Department of Health.

Records from the Bureau of Fire Protection showed that 14 fire incidents nationwide were reported in the evening of December 31, 2018 leading to January 1, 2019.

Majority of the fire incidents happened in residential areas and were caused by pyrotechnics and firecrackers. ###