The Indian Supreme court recently imposed a ban on the sale of firecrackers within the Delhi National Capital Region. Earlier in 2016 around the period of Diwali celebrations, Delhi, along with some places in China, was recorded to have the world’s worst air quality for human living. One of the reasons cited for this was the bursting of firecrackers. Diwali is one of the most popular festivals in the country. According to Hindu texts, it marks the comeback of Lord Rama to Ayodhya, and also marks the Hindu new year – these events are celebrated with pomp and show, and generally, involve bursting of firecrackers too. New Delhi already deals with the problem of air pollution from extreme automobile congestion and is the 11th most populated city in the world. Lower temperature and lower winds were recorded after Diwali last year, which proved that pollutants that remained in the air would not have dispersed. This was what came to be known as the great smog of Delhi. To avoid such extreme pollution once again the Supreme Court passed a verdict to put a ban on the sale of firecrackers around the Delhi National Capital Region.
How exactly do firecrackers contribute to polluting the environment?
A firecracker is a small explosive device which when burned produces a loud noise along with colorful sparks. It is made up of many harmful chemicals and produces harmful gases when burnt which dissolve in the atmosphere and add to its contamination.
Below are a few components which make firecrackers responsible for Air pollution and respiratory issues:
Chemicals present in a firecracker:
Sulphur nitrates, magnesium, nitrogen dioxide are involved in the making of crackers. These prove to be hazardous for our respiratory systems and can cause serious ailments like asthma, lung cancer, shortness of breath, and many other respiratory diseases.
Among the components which are responsible for cracker explosion is included Antimony sulfates, which are also used in producing the head of safety matches, military ammunition and which is even suspected to cause cancer. Mercury fulminate is a primary explosive, also used in cracker production, which is sensitive to friction, causing heat and shock to the people around. Arsenic, which is inflammable in nature but is bad for the atmosphere, is also used. Lead is found in larger crackers, and lithium, which is a flammable substance used to produce explosions, is also found in many crackers.
Different types of powders involved in manufacturing:
Flash powder, cordite, smokeless powder, or black powder are a few of the ingredients involved in the manufacture of crackers, which again cause health issues for both animals and humans.
During Diwali, the amount of smog in Delhi increases by 30% due to the bursting of crackers.
Elements like sulphur, cadmium, copper, aluminum, and barium produce resonant colors when ignited along with a huge amount of smog and gases. Nitrous oxide remains in the air for a long time if the city does not get enough rain or strong winds. The great smog of Delhi in 2016 is the greatest example of such a phenomenon.
Anurag Aggarwal, a Delhi based scientist at CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology compared the situation of the Indian capital to the London smog of 1952 and said that it could have caused almost 4000 deaths.
Below is a list of the salts used to produce particular colours.
|Strontium Salts||Nitrates, carbonates, and sulphate of strontiums||· Red colour|
|Calcium Salts||carbonates, chlorides, and sulphates of calcium||· Orange colour|
|Barium Salts||Nitrates, Carbonates, Chlorides, and Chlorates of barium||· Green colour|
|Copper Salts||Carbonates and Oxides of copper||· Blue Colour|
|Combination||Copper and Strontium||· Purple Colour|
|Metals||Magnesium, Aluminum, Titanium||o White Color|
Noise Pollution: Cracker bursting not only affect the environment but it also paves way for noise pollution. The big bangs, whizzing whistles, and the thunderous sounds are no good for ears. It contributes in scaring the animals away in a very inhuman condition. Animals cannot communicate but the way these loud noises frighten them is very saddening. For example, dogs get confused on hearing these noises and seeing these lights changing in their surroundings which can be fatal for them. This sound is not even good for infants and pregnant women. The presence of aluminum, sulfur nitrate enables a cracker to produce loud sounds.
Water pollution: That’s right. Fireworks do cause water pollution as well. Many times people conduct such activities near water bodies because they want to avoid fire accidents but they end up polluting those water bodies instead. The compounds present in the cracker dissolve in the water making it poisonous and unfit for consumption, and also killing off aquatic animals.
Fire Accidents: Fire accidents are common in markets during Diwali. A small spark is enough to set fire to anything. Even Bollywood has shown some of the worst fire accidents caused by crackers e.g. in the Movie Vivaah, starting Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao in lead roles, we saw how a single blaze of fire burnt down their whole house and caused serious burns to the female protagonist. Children, while paying crackers often get injuries and burns.The Indian Express newspaper reported more than 290 fire accidents during Diwali last year
Why risk your life for momentary fun?
Garbage Problem: Under the Scheme of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi has encouraged the citizens of the nation to walk on the path of cleanliness, but the bursting of crackers leaves the whole nation dirty and full of garbage. A day of fun makes sweepers work with extra effort for the next 10 days to clean their designated localities.
Looking at these problems we can say that although bursting crackers is a popular tradition among us, if we look at the bigger picture then we can say that the step taken by the Supreme Court of India in posing a ban on the sale of fire-crackers, is more beneficial to us in the long run. After all, as they say ‘Health is wealth’.
Wish you all a very happy and safe Diwali.
Written By: Manaswita Sachdewa
Edited By: Anirban Banerjee