Diwali brings unwatchable enthusiasm and celebratory spirit. It is a festival of light and on this day, people decorate their homes with diyas, rangolis, wear new clothes, organize get-togethers, exchange sweets, and savouries and in the evening perform, Lakshmi Pujan. It is celebrated to mark the return of homecoming of Shri Rama along with his wife, Mata Sita, and brother Lakshmana, who were in exile for fourteen years.
However we have misinterpreted the sentiments of Diwali and made it a festival much of crackers, lots of noise, and less of lights, people think firecrackers signal that the whole city and nation is celebrating Diwali and often we see some section of people purchase expensive hazardous crackers just to show off their wealth.
But now is the time to realize that the red and bright glare of the rockets and other crackers lighting up the dark moonless night of Diwali, maybe a sight to behold, but it also fills the air with toxic pollutants and can adversely affect our environment and our health for a long time. Hence we should believe in idealistic Diwali rather than making it a materialistic festival. We should remind ourselves that the festival of lights could just as easily and far less ruinously be celebrated with lamps instead of fireworks. Because in this way we could be able to eradicate child labour from dangerous industries and stop air pollution from hazardous chemicals.
If we look at the situation of last year’s post-Diwali in the National capital Region, people celebrated by lighting illegal and dangerously polluted firecrackers. Air index plunged to “very poor” and “Hazardous”. Even many areas had reported an AQI of 999, beyond which reading is not possible. The prescribed limit is 60 but stubble burning and bursting crackers convert it into a veritable gas chamber.
The air was completely fouled up. Why? Because firing crackers on Diwali increase the concentration of dust and pollutants in the air. In India, we burn more than 40 recognized and other dangerous forms of firecrackers, one louder than the other and all of them release toxic fumes into the dense winter air. How? The ingredients that make the firecrackers attractive on being lit are some of the most toxic metals and chemicals. When burned, the firecrackers emit toxic pollutants, particularly sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and particulate matter (PM) along with several metallic compounds, which not only have a detrimental effect on air quality but also pose serious health risks, particularly to people suffering from respiratory diseases.
Right from the gunpowder that fuels the flight of a noisy rocket to the metal that gives out the colourful sparkles during the fireworks, everything releases a large amount of harmful air pollutants. Even, Delhi’s top doctors declared air pollution as a public health emergency and urged people to not burn firecrackers and celebrate a green Diwali.
These invisible yet harmful particles affect the environment and in turn, put our health at stake. Already the world is trapped in the vicious cycle of the pandemic, and these virus affects our lungs and makes patches around it which create problems in breathing but if by burning crackers we add more impurities in the atmosphere then it will become nearly impossible for the people to recover. Along with this Increase in the sound levels can lead to restlessness, temporary or permanent hearing loss, high blood pressure, and sleep disturbance and this collectively becomes a major problem for people who are infected with covid19 people many other old-age people, suffering from heart problems, etc.
People don’t understand the consequences of Possible Health Risks that Occur as a result of Firing Crackers and some of them are:
- The thick smoke generated even by the little sparklers and flowerpots can affect the respiratory tract, especially of young children.
- The smoke that pollutes the air can make people’s conditions much severe who are suffering from colds and allergies. It also causes congestion of the throat and chest.
- During Diwali, the levels of suspended particulate matter increase. When people are exposed to these pollutant particles, they may suffer from eye, nose, and throat related problems.
- The air and noise pollution that is caused by firecrackers can affect people with disorders related to the heart, respiratory, and nervous system.
- To produce colors when crackers are burst, radioactive and poisonous elements are used. When these compounds pollute the air, they increase the risk of cancer in people.
- The harmful fumes while firing crackers can lead to miscarriage. Hence, pregnant women are advised to stay at home when crackers firing is at a peak.
- Getting exposed to harmful chemicals while firing crackers can hinder the growth in children and increases the toxic levels in their bodies.
Firecracker sounds like concentrated fun but every year people die and get injured across the country in fireworks-related incidents, including the gutting of houses and shops on Diwali. Subsequently, Hundreds of patients get burnt, eye injuries, and breathing problems. It remains a harrowing time for speechless birds and animals and it is veritably the worst time of the year, many of them lost their lives and gets injured due to firecrackers and their deafening sound. Unfortunately, dogs and cats have highly sensitive hearing abilities, as they can hear what the human ear cannot. Hence sounds of continuous loud bursts are literally nerve-racking.
Similarly, Diwali is not the same for everyone. On one hand, we burst crackers to celebrate the victory of good over evil, on the other hand, we are guilty of propagating a major social evil — child labour. Bursting firecrackers is the same as burning the childhood of the children who die due to accidents and inhuman working conditions in firecracker factories. They have no formal training, machines, or safety gear as they fill gunpowder into small earthen pots, rocket tubes, and paper shells in direct contact with hazardous ingredients and explosives. Most of their workforce is children, adolescents, and women.
That’s how a large, unorganized part of the country makes fireworks for Diwali, Dussehra, and other celebrations.
The fireworks and crackers manufacturers should adopt more sustainable and organic components and techniques to reduce the pollution caused by the bursting of firecrackers.
While the administration takes the call to regulate and implement strict laws to cater to air pollution we as citizens also owe the responsibility on individual levels to reduce and control air pollution.
Do not think it is not our responsibility. It is ours, theirs and everyone’s duty to take care of the environment, fellow humans and other living beings.