Diwali, the festival of lights, has become synonymous with the resplendent display of fireworks. However, the dazzling spectacle comes at a considerable cost to the environment and public health. In this article, we delve into the profound impact of Diwali pollution, examining its consequences and exploring potential alternatives.
The Environmental Consequences of Diwali Fireworks:
- Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The combustion of fireworks releases toxic chemicals, including carbon dioxide (CO2), contributing significantly to air pollution. In the United States alone, fireworks were found to release about 60,340 tons of CO2, equivalent to the annual output of approximately 12,000 cars.
- Delhi’s Struggle with Pollution: Delhi, a city with already precarious air quality, experiences a drastic deterioration post-Diwali. The release of harmful gases and particulate matter leads to a surge in Air Quality Index (AQI), reaching alarming levels. PM2.5 levels, a major contributor to respiratory issues, spiked to 866 the night of Diwali.
- Toxic Gases and Health Impacts: The chemical reactions during firecracker combustion emit toxic gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. These pollutants not only contaminate air, water, and soil but also pose severe health risks, affecting mental health, causing hormonal imbalances, and leading to long-term respiratory issues.
Green Crackers: A Cleaner Alternative?
- Development and Composition: Green crackers, developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), aim to mitigate the environmental impact of traditional fireworks. These alternatives use eco-friendly chemicals such as potassium nitrate and aluminum, reducing the emission of harmful substances like barium nitrate.
- Reduced Sound Pollution: In addition to being environmentally friendly, green crackers also address the issue of noise pollution. Unlike regular crackers that produce 160-200 decibels of sound, green crackers are limited to about 100-130 decibels, reducing the risk of accidents and hearing damage.
Challenges and Considerations
While green crackers offer a cleaner and safer option, challenges persist. Only manufacturers with agreements with CSIR can produce these crackers, limiting accessibility. The ingredients required for green crackers are not abundantly available, posing challenges to widespread adoption.
The Aftermath of Diwali Pollution
- Immediate Health Effects: The short-term health effects of Diwali pollution include breathing problems, headaches, and watery eyes. Max Hospital reported a 20% increase in patients with breathing issues the day after Diwali.
- Long-term Health and Environmental Impact: The long-term exposure to Diwali pollution contributes to chronic respiratory issues, cardiovascular diseases, and environmental degradation. The rise in Earth’s temperature, accelerated by air pollution, poses a significant threat to glaciers and icebergs.
A Call for Change
As we revel in the joy of Diwali, it is crucial to reflect on the environmental consequences of our celebrations. While green crackers offer a step towards a cleaner Diwali, addressing challenges and promoting widespread adoption is essential. The onus is on us to ensure that our traditions evolve into sustainable practices, fostering a healthier environment for generations to come.
Green crackers are relatively cleaner and safer than regular crackers, but they are not entirely pollution-free. They still contribute to environmental challenges, albeit to a lesser extent.
Only manufacturers with agreements with CSIR are allowed to produce green crackers. The limited availability of ingredients poses challenges to widespread production and accessibility.