LIMA – Setting off fireworks to celebrate the arrival of Christmas boosted air pollution in Lima by 24 percent over the maximum allowed limit, a spokesman for the Peruvian Health Ministry said Saturday.
The executive director of Ecology and Environmental Protection at the Health Ministry, Elmer Quinchiz, said the maximum limit of particulate material allowed in the air is 150 micrograms per cubic meter, but the measurement during Christmas at the Santa Luzmila police station in Lima showed that it had reached 186.3 micrograms.
“With 186.3 we’re talking about real air pollution,” Quinchiz said, after explaining that the measurement was taken continuously over a 24-hour period.
The Santa Luzmila station said that the hour of greatest environmental pollution was at 1:00 a.m. on Dec. 25 when it rose to 186.3 micrograms per cubic meter, the state news agency Andina reported.
The second-highest hour was at noon on Christmas Day, when particulate matter in the air reached 154.6 micrograms per cubic meter.
Quinchiz said in an interview with Andina that the chief health problems caused by the igniting of fireworks are allergies in the respiratory tract, as well as eye irritation and blindness because the sulfur, carbon and coloring of the fireworks are harmful to the sight.
He also warned that “the ear can tolerate between 60 and 70 decibels of sound, but many fireworks are louder than 120, which can cause hearing problems.”
Local governments have limited the sale of these articles to authorized centers, but the clandestine trade continues and police have confiscated these products in a number of regions throughout Peru.