Mon, Dec 31, 2007 - Page 2 News List

EPA calls on public to celebrate New Year's Eve with environment in mind

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Environmental Protection Administration has called on New Year's Eve and Lunar New Year revelers to forgo firecrackers and fireworks this year and celebrate the holidays in a more environmentally friendly fashion.

"In addition to the physical danger posed by fireworks, the EPA advises against fireworks because they are harmful to human health as they release large amounts of heavy metal particles into the air," said Chang Shun-ching (張順欽), the EPA's department of environmental monitoring and information management senior specialist.

Chang cited the Yenshui Beehive Rockets (蜂炮) Festival in Yenshui Township (鹽水), Tainan County, saying that the administration's air quality evaluation last March showed the fireworks released more than 10 times the normal amount of baseline pollutants into the air.

The fine and coarse pollutants released into the air were potassium, aluminum, magnesium, barium, lead, strontium, calcium, sodium, iron and zinc, Chang said.

Strontium, potassium and barium were at 365, 182 and 147 times baseline density after the Yenshui celebrations, he said.

"People are advised to gauge their own health conditions before attending events that use fireworks, since the pollutants may trigger asthma attacks or other problems in those with weaker respiratory systems," he said.

In related news, dust coming from northeastern China would probably continue to cloud the nation's skies over the coming days, Chang said yesterday.

Although the dust cloud was forecast to subside yesterday or today, the public is advised to stay at home the next few days and avoid strenuous outdoor activity.

Children, the elderly and people with heart or respiratory conditions or compromised immune systems are especially affected by the dust, he said.

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