Due to pollution caused by firecrackers, many states have imposed a ban on the use of firecrackers during festival seasons. Instead of conventional firecrackers, the States which banned firecrackers have allowed the use of green crackers. Green crackers contain fewer chemicals and are less harmful than traditional ones.
Major Hazards Of Firecrackers to the Environment
Most firecrackers contain harmful chemicals like sulphur, zinc, copper and sodium. The use of firecrackers increases the concentration of dust and pollutants in the air. This dust filled with harmful chemicals will settle on the ground, which results in environmental and health hazards.
Firecrackers can increase air pollution, noise pollution, and global warming. The crackers contain many toxic chemical compounds which activate after getting in touch with exposed air.
For example, Nitrous oxide can remain in the air for a longer period if there is no heavy rain or strong winds. This will decrease the quality of air and will result in air pollution.
The loud sounds of firecrackers can affect humans directly. Older people can suffer from heart attacks due to loud sounds. Animals feel unsafe due to the fire and will look for a safe place. The noise of firecrackers makes them unstable, leading to shivering, drooling, howling, psychosis, or excessive barking in the case of dogs. Smaller animals can die due to burns or due to loud sounds. The use of crackers increases heat, carbon dioxide and releases toxic gases into the atmosphere, which causes an increase in the temperature and polluted air leading to global warming.
The remains of firecrackers which contain chemical substances are left as garbage which will be released into soil and water, causing pollution and will affect the health of humans and animals.
Health Hazards of Firecrackers
Inhaling the fumes of crackers can increase the chances of asthma attacks and respiratory burns. Heart patients and chronic bronchitis patients come at high risk because pre-existing diseases can become worse. Some of the health risks caused by the chemicals in firecrackers include irritation of respiratory tracts due to copper, vomiting and fume fever due to zinc and magnesium and burns and wounds due to exposed sodium. Cadmium reduces the capacity of oxygen in the blood, which leads to anaemia and lead can directly affect the nervous system.
Patients suffering from infections and allergies can face severe issues as the direct exposure to smoke and fumes can cause congestion of the throat and chest. Due to the smoke of firecrackers, the suspended particles in the air increase and exposure to that air might lead to ear, eye, nose and throat related problems. The radioactive and poisonous elements in the crackers used for the colour can increase the risk of cancer. It is advised to pregnant women to stay at home when firecrackers are used to avoid the risk of miscarriage. The rise in the level of chemical compounds in the air can limit the child’s growth and increase the toxic elements in the body.
Green crackers are made using less chemical raw materials compared to traditional ones.
To produce a combustion reaction, firecrackers use oxidisers and fuel. The chemicals used as oxidisers and fuel have harmful effects. Green crackers aim to reduce the negative impacts of these chemicals on the environment and the health of humans and animals.
Green crackers are produced by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI), Nagpur, which has reduced light and sound emission and only has 30% less particulate matter using Potassium Nitrate as oxidant. These crackers lessen the amounts of particles released into the air, thus reducing dust. The regular crackers emit about 160 decibels of sound, while the emission rate of green crackers is limited to 110-125 decibels.
A system of Quick Response (QR) code is developed to differentiate them from regular crackers. The manufacturing cost of green crackers is almost the same as the manufacturing cost of traditional crackers. These crackers are approved by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) after considering numerous factors like less pollution, less sound and few harmful chemicals and the absence of mercury, arsenic and barium. Green crackers release water vapour or air as a dust suppressant and diluent for emissions of gases.
Three Types of Green Crackers
There are three types of green crackers- Safe Water Releaser (SWAS), Safe Thermite Cracker (STAR), and Safe Minimal Aluminium (SAFAL). The Safe Water Release (SWAS) reduces the use of Potassium Nitrate and Sulphur but produces the same amount of sound as ordinary ones. It releases water vapour into the air which suppresses the dust and gases released. Safe Minimal Aluminium (SAFAL) contains less aluminium and has less sound emission and Safe Thermite Crackers (STAR) has low Sulphur and Potassium Nitrate. It also has reduced sound and particle emission. Green crackers do not contain barium nitrate, one of the most hazardous chemical elements present in traditional crackers.
India has witnessed a reduction in air quality and the presence of smog during winters over the years. A significant factor of this is the use of firecrackers on a large scale during festivities. Green crackers will upgrade the air quality and ensure that the amount of chemicals released into the air is minimal.