Fireworks are considered to be a major part of Diwali festivities and despite the efforts of environmentalists to highlight the extensive harm caused by these fireworks, it is clear that the people of the country do not want to give up bursting crackers during Diwali. With air pollution skyrocketing in recent years, several states in India have placed a ban on fireworks but have allowed the sale, manufacture and use of green firecrackers. Since it is a viable substitute, people have been rushing to stores in different parts of the country to purchase these green crackers. However, there is still a large chunk of the population that is unaware about what green crackers are and how they are better than traditional firecrackers. Therefore, we have attempted to explain below about green crackers in the hope that more and more people, even from states where there is no ban on traditional crackers, shift to green crackers.
● WHAT ARE GREEN CRACKERS?
Green crackers are an idea which was brought out by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute. They do not contain harmful chemicals as opposed to traditional firecrackers. As a result of this, less pollutants are emitted, causing lesser air pollution. Alternative raw materials are used to manufacture green crackers instead of those that are the prime cause for pollution in order to leave a lesser impact on the environment and also the health of the people.
Green crackers are, simply put, eco-friendly crackers. Green crackers do not contain aluminium, barium, potassium nitrate or carbon, thus making them eco-friendly. Green crackers emit 30% less pollution than regular crackers. In addition, the chemical Barium Nitrate which is the reason for significant heavy smoke and emissions are not used or used minimally in green crackers. Polluting components such as aluminium, barium, potassium nitrate, and carbon have been removed or drastically reduced in green crackers to cut emissions by 15 to 30 percent.
It has also been found that green crackers reduce noise pollution as well. Regular crackers create roughly 160 decibels of sound, whereas green crackers have a sound level of 110–125 dB, according to reports. Flower pots, pencils, sparkles, and chakkar are among the green crackers developed by the Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Green crackers, without a doubt, are environmentally beneficial and were created to prevent air pollution, which poses a health risk.
These crackers will cost less than or equivalent to market value of regular crackers. The. government has also created a green logo and a QR (quick response code) system to distinguish green crackers from conventional crackers. You can check for these before purchasing crackers.
● THE PROCESS OF MAKING GREEN CRACKERS
The goal of the first phase of green cracker manufacturing was on lowering pollutants, with subsequent strategies focusing on removing pollutants from the compositions. The team created three to four formulations, focusing on active ingredients that lower particulate matter by 30 to 40 percent. These crackers, according to the researchers, have the unique virtue of emitting water vapour, air as a dust suppressant, and diluents for gaseous emissions, which match the sound performance of regular conventional crackers. Green cracker production has already begun in India, and eco-friendly crackers and fireworks are presently on the market for sellers and customers in the country. On the basis of the Supreme Court’s recommendations, new formulations for producing green crackers have been devised. So far, 230 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and 165 non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have been signed with fireworks manufacturers in response to the Supreme Court’s decision.
● WHY SHOULD WE SWITCH TO GREEN CRACKERS?
One of the most pressing environmental issues affecting our civilization today is air pollution. Human activities such as mining, construction, transportation, and industry, among others, are mostly to blame. Volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and other natural occurrences are also reasons for the same. However, they are uncommon and usually have a local effect. Firecrackers used to celebrate Diwali are another key source of pollution. As a result, green crackers have been developed to reduce air pollution. In recent years, air quality and pollution over the festive season have become a source of concern during the end of the year.
The National Green Tribunal has issued a ban on the sale and use of crackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) until November 30, as well as cities and towns whose air quality levels were below satisfactory in November 2019. Many state governments, including Rajasthan and Odisha, have outright prohibited the use of firecrackers this year, citing environmental concerns as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, while others, such as Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, have allowed green crackers to be used.
Firecrackers can have serious health consequences for people such as heart disease, lung problems, and nervous system disorders. Congestion of the throat and chest can occur even in persons who have a regular cold or cough. Restlessness, temporary or permanent hearing loss, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and even impaired cognitive development in children are all symptoms of noise pollution. Chemicals and substances included in firecrackers such as cadmium, lead, chromium, aluminium, magnesium, nitrates, carbon monoxide, copper, potassium, salt, zinc oxide, manganese dioxide, and others if inhaled or consumed, can cause health problems over time.
● MOVING FORWARD
Several cracker manufacturers have taken up manufacturing green crackers. They were successfully demonstrated in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu, which is known for its fireworks industry. This year, the goal was to employ low-cost materials. In the following phase, other different unique materials will be used and tested out, according to the researchers. At CSIR-NEERI, an emissions testing laboratory has also been set up. This will evaluate both conventional and green crackers, as well as their emissions and noise levels. Another issue being looked into is the use of poor raw materials in the manufacture of fireworks, which is a significant source of particulate matter pollution. A team from the CSIR-CEERI in Pilani is also testing e-crackers, or electronic crackers. Manufacturers, on the other hand, have been less than enthusiastic about this, with some claiming that it will sound like listening to a recording of firecrackers.