BY PET MELLIZA/ The Beekeeper
We don’t need the Department of Health (DoH) to advise us to celebrate the Yuletide with blow horns, electric sounds and lights, instead of fireworks.
On second thought though we need that department to nag us twice, thrice and even the umpteenth time to ensure a safe Christmas and New Year especially for children. Government warnings almost always fall on deaf ears.
Yours truly used to stock firecracders at home by pouches for lighting December through the homestretch of the New Year on the mistaken belief of buoying up spirits and warding off evils.
I stopped buying and lighting firecrackers the past five years fully convinced on the wisdom behind the makulit DoH reminder.
There are many reasons for using alternative sources of lights and noises instead of fireworks, off and in Yuletide Season.
Firecrackers and fireworks contaminate the air we breathe, the soil we cultivate, and the water we drink with toxins, to include heavy metals.
They also result to accidents – fire that burn properties and people, and injuries to humans, children especially.
The DoH reports that of the 334 cases of firecracker-caused accidents last year, 34 percent of the victims are children under 10 years old (www.homeescape.com).
The DoH has a continuing program named “APIR” to convince people to shun firecrackers. The word is a street jargon (“Up Here”) where people say the word, raise a hand and rap open palms on air. It is some sort of a greeting and presupposes that each hand has a complete set of fingers.
APIR stands for “Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction”, a reminder for adults that accidents continue to claim limbs, even lives, because of firecrackers and fireworks.
If you love our children, stay away from firecrackers yourself and order your kids to shun them.
The government banned the “piccolo”, “pla-pla”, “five-star”, “atomic bomb”, “super lolo”, “boga” and watusi as the DoH blamed it for most of the injuries. However, their manufacture continues despite the ban. In fact, in Iloilo, they are sold openly in places designated by local governments as venues for entrepreneurs to erect kiosks to sell them.
Firecrackers and fireworks need coal and sulfur fuel to ignite, and potassium nitrite to inject oxygen to speed up combustion. The explosion of these chemicals already pose enough environmental hazards but these are still aggravated by the common practice of replacing potassium nitrites with potassium perchlorates or ammonium perchlorates.
Mother Nature Network (mnn.com) notes that perchlorates in high doses blocks the thyroid gland’s capacity to absorb iodine from the blood stream. The gland fabricates iodine into various hormones that are in turn, regulate many body functions. Persons low in these hormones are susceptible to a wide range of disorders.
Thyroid hormones are vital to normal mental and physical growth. Children, infants and fetuses are the worst to suffer from hypothyroidism because of that. If we may recall, we have the ASIN Law that requires retailers to iodize the salt they sell. Iodine, a micro-nutrient, is needed in minute quantity by the body but the lack of that could stunt mental or the IQ growth of children; the damage is irreparable.
I don’t want to be a killjoy, but before you gape in awe at their different colors, pyrotechnics contain heavy metals that produce that colorful effect. MNN writes that manufacturers add strontium to produce red flares, aluminum white, copper blue, barium green, rubidium purple, and, among others, cadmium various colors.
Strontium is radioactive and in high dosage damages the bone marrow, may cause anemia and prevent blood clotting “correctly”. Aluminum in high dosage injures the lung and brain, and, though under study still, may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Copper compounds are not dangerous on their own but they work to form dioxins, dangerous compounds that are carcinogens, particularly chloracne. Barium may not be cancer-causing but can cause gastro-intestinal and muscular problems that can lead to heart disease, even death.
Rubidium easily ignites and may cause fire even in below freezing point. It causes skin irritation. Cadmium is known carcinogen and may damage the lungs when one breathes heave doses of it.
Have a green Yuletide everyone. Keep your kids away from firecrackers.