To reduce the volume of pollution usually generated over the holidays, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has proposed the strict regulation of fireworks during the holidays through the designation of areas where Filipinos can set off and enjoy fireworks and other pyrotechnic displays.

“We are looking for ways that will allow Filipinos to enjoy Christmas and New Year without the pollution that usually comes with it,” he said, adding that the indiscriminate setting off of fireworks is “like putting pollution in the hands of society.”

Paje said that he would bring up his proposal with Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, explaining that setting up such areas, whether within a municipality or even among a cluster of barangays, would drastically reduce the amount of air pollutants from pyrotechnics, such as dust, sulfur and charcoal which complicate respiratory problems.

These pollutants lead to the formation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. They also get trapped in smog that blankets the air afterwards, aggravated by the cold weather and rain expected from the occurrence of La Niña.

Paje noted that the pollution would also set back the country’s gains in reducing the air pollution level especially in Metro Manila, where the level of total suspended particulates (TSPs) declined during the first three quarters of the year. Latest report indicated a decrease to 120 ug/ncm in the 3rd quarter of 2011, from 130 ug/ncm during the same period last year.

The DENR secretary added that common fireworks areas would also mean areas where people could safely enjoy fireworks and make cleaning up afterwards an easier task, translating to less fires, injuries and deaths.

Aside from designating common areas for fireworks, the DENR chief reminded Filipinos to refrain from burning tires, which produces carbon monoxide and other poisonous metals such as zinc which is harmful when inhaled.

He then challenged Filipinos to “tap their creativity and ingenuity in celebrating the holidays with less harm to health, lives and environment.”