Firecrackers, Diwali and air pollution

.Delhi Firing of

Happy Deepavali 2021.

The festival of light Diwali is supposed to mark the  victory of the good over the evil. Supposedly, it will get rid of darkness and brings in light and ray of hope. Unfortunately in the last decades, this important Hindu festival  because of firecrackers  darkens the sky of cities like Delhi with  thick smog  and pushes the particulate level in the air to a hazardous level. Environmentalists and physicians are concerned about the health of million of people living in Delhi and the surrounding big cities.  

Diwali air pollution, Delhi.

Despite  restrictions, people are afraid this time the traditional rounds of lighting fire crackers may make things worse Sparklers, smoke bombs and arterial fireworks may spew  clouds of noxious gases, adding more particulates in the air. The additional concern is COVID -19 pandemic that shows signs of declining. Air pollution may cause the Covid virus stay in the air.

Air pollution

All over the world air pollution is a major problem challenging the nations and it  has  been around for  more than a couple of decades and  every year its impact on the people's health is on the increase. It is  ranked among the top five global risk factors of mortality by the Health Effects Institute (HEI 2019). The culprit is particulate matter (PM) pollution and according to HEI's report, it the third important cause of death in 2017 and this rate was found to be highest in India. Air pollution was considered to cause over 1.1 million premature deaths in 2017 in India (HEI 2019). The Indian cities, on average, exceeded the WHO threshold by an alarming 500%. This finding  is a matter of serious concern positively it will affect the overall health of a large section of people.

It is distressing to know that  India has the world's worst air pollution and it is home to 22 of the world's 30 most polluted cities.  How many of you know that  India's toxic polluted air kills more than one million people each year.  Adding to this problem is   smoggy air  in India's many cities, particularly, in the north and these cities register  dangerously high levels of fine particulate matter known as PM 2.5. It is linked to heart and lung diseases  and is known to impair cognitive functions and immune system.  In Delhi alone in 2020 it accounted for 54000 premature death according  to Greenpeace SE  Asia. The impact of air pollution on the cities varies, some cities sufferer worse than others,  with air pollution reducing life expectancy by 9.4 years in Delhi and 8.6 years in Uttar Pradesh, India's most polluted state. 

Poor air quality and increasing air pollutants are primarily  caused  by  associated anthropogenic activities, rapid industrialization,  urbanization, etc.   In all major  Indian cities, the contributing factors of air pollution  are quite similar – vehicle exhaust, heavy industry including power generation, small scale industries including brick kilns, suspended dust on the roads due to  frequent vehicle movement and construction activities, 

Emission from car.

 Research studies point out in a decade from now 50% of the global population  take refuge in urban areas to seek jobs. etc.  Further, more than 80% of population in urban space  is  exposed to emissions from vehicles CO2, methane, oxides of Sulphur, etc., that exceed the standards set by World Health Organization (WHO 2016).

Air pollution scenario being bad across India, the Supreme Court observed in the recent past in 2018 the bursting of firecrackers is a contributing  factor and it should be very much restricted to the minimum.  The bursting of firecrackers has seen a substantial increase in PM 2.5 level, which is a “very serious health hazard.” The effects of severe noise pollution are not restricted to humans but also cause trauma to animals and birds.

In cities like Delhi unregulated construction activity which generates a lot of dust and crop burning in the neighboring States are the two other major reasons besides,  pollution caused by emission from the vehicles.   

Air  pollution

Air Pollution –Fumes and particulates can not be avoided when firing crackers and theyare known to  promote air pollution.   Many toxic gases and chemical compounds  in the crackers  will  activate upon contact with the air.  Nitrous oxide stays in the air for a long time unless it is removed by rain or strong winds. It may cause lungs problem

 Global Warming – Bursting crackers  releases toxic gases that heats up  the atmosphere.  This will increase  the earth's temperature  and promote global warming.  

noise pollution due to crackers.

Noise Pollution – When lighting crackers it is always accompanied by sound in some cases.  Quite irritating loud cracker sound can affect not only human but also other pet animals, etc. It may cause heart failure among  elderly people. It will also affect pregnant women and newborn babies as well.   

Fire Accidents:  If fire crackers are not handled with care it may cause serious fire accidents. In the villages  the houses with thatched roof are prone to fire accident. If the embers from the  burning crackers fall on them it may cause fire. 

Firecrackers are made with a combination of chemicals, depending on their use. Certain chemicals may  cause burn or respiratory attacks and  inflammation.

Certain chemicals  in the crackers  may affect as follows:  

Copper  causes irritation in the respiratory path. Irritates the respiratory tracts and may affect respiration.

Cadmium  is widely used in some sparklers and it may affect   capacity of carrying oxygen in blood, which then leads to anemia  

Lead in the crackers may affect   our nervous system   

Sodium,  a highly reactive element in nature may cause skin burns if exposed to the air. 

Before Diwali last year, an Indian Court effectively banned conventional fireworks because of  various pollution, in particular air-pollution . It ruled that only “green firecrackers” within permitted noise levels and emissions norms could be sold.