Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said today that President Aquino has expressed concern over air pollution that may be worsened with the traditional merry making that comes with the holiday celebration.

“The past few months saw the continuing decrease in the level of air pollution in the metropolis from a high of 166 micrograms per Normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) in June 2010 to 116 ug/Ncm by the end of the third quarter this year. In fact, we attained a low of 112 ug/Ncm last September. We will lose the momentum of our efforts unless the public cooperates with the government in minimizing, if not totally avoid, the use of firecrackers in the coming holidays,” Paje said.

In a letter to the Department of Interior and Local Government, Paje sought the assistance of Secretary Jesse Robredo to designate common firecracker areas that will allow Filipinos to celebrate without the pollution that usually comes with it.

“Designated common fireworks areas (CFAs), whether within a municipality or even among a cluster of barangays would drastically reduce the amount of air pollution from pyrotechnics such as dust, sulfur and charcoal which can complicate respiratory problems,” said Paje.

CFAs could also avoid possible harm to the people, he added.

He, however, expressed optimism over the DILG’s resolve to show political will to designate CFAs in light of snowballing support for the scheme as all of the 17 city and town mayors in Metro Manila signed last October 18, 2011 Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Resolution No. 11-31.

MMDA Resolution 11-31 urges Metro Manila’s local executives to set up in every baranggay common fireworks zones in line with the call for the strict implementation of Republic Act 7183 (An act regulating the sale, manufacture, distribution and use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices) to “provide safer environment” to celebrate the holidays.

Firecrackers contain sulfur, charcoal and other materials that form greenhouse gases when these react with oxidants in the air.

Further, dusts from fireworks and firecrackers can affect the lungs and pose a real danger to people who suffer from illnesses of the respiratory system like asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, pneumonia, rhinitis and sinusitis.