CELEBRATE the New Year with singing and dancing instead of setting off firecrackers — which can lead to fewer fingers and respiratory ailments — a pulmonologist said.

“Small particles suspended in the air remain sometime after display, and these particles can have adverse effects on our respiratory and cardiovascular system,” said Dr. Ronald D. Palma, member of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians’ council on the control of tobacco and air pollution.

“Smoke on a lower level is specifically of concern because it can be inhaled compared to professional fireworks higher up in the sky,” he said at a Dec. 13 webinar on holiday health essentials.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported that air pollution levels in Manila reached 156 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/NCM) on January 1, 2022, exceeding the safe standard of 150 ug/NCM.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health’s (DoH) recorded 128 fireworks-related injuries in 2021, slightly more than the 122 cases in 2020.

“We were able to reduce the use of firecrackers since the initial onset of the pandemic, so we should continue that even after it’s all over,” he said.

He recommended singing, dancing, and alternative noisemaking methods like banging pots and pans.

In the event of minor burns due to firecrackers, Dr. Palma shared first aid tips:

Hold the burned area under cold running water for at least 10 minutes.

Use cling film to cover the burn.

Never burst blisters or rub the wound. Do not use creams.

Avoid cloth bandages or cotton wool dressing pads.

DoH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said during a recent media briefing that the minimum health standards like wearing face masks and distancing must be observed given the continued threat of the coronavirus. — Brontë H. Lacsamana