Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna has reminded candidates and their supporters to stay environmentally conscious when conducting campaign activities for the May 2022 national and local elections.

Sampulna made the statement following reports on the use of fireworks and balloons in several political rallies.

“Aside from prohibiting the posting of campaign materials on trees, we also urge the candidates to refrain from using fireworks and releasing balloons during their political rallies. We do not encourage using these materials because it harms the ozone layer,” he said.

According to Sampulna, releasing balloons and using fireworks are “both detrimental to the environment.”

Likewise, DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) OIC Director Natividad Y. Bernardino said that releasing balloons into open air may cause harm to wildlife and the environment.

“When the balloons run out of air, their scraps come back to the ground and may end up in the oceans and become marine litter,” Bernardino said.

While marine litter comprises many materials, most of these are plastics, such as balloons, bags, sachets, wrappers, and bottles, among others.

Marine turtles, whales, dolphins, and fishes can ingest these and may cause internal injuries and mortality.

Likewise, marine litter can damage and degrade marine habitats.

Meanwhile, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director William P. Cuñado said that fireworks propel chemicals and heavy metals in the air, which if inhaled may cause adverse effects on human health.

“Fireworks contain chemicals such as heavy metals and may emit harmful gases and fine particles such as particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) during combustion, which if inhaled may cause sickness to human beings and pollution to the environment,” Cuñado said.

A type of air pollutant, PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated. ###