Chemical tests find banned chemicals in crackers

The tests found the presence of other highly toxic chemicals banned under the Hazardous Chemicals Rules, like arsenic, sulphur and chlorine

Staff ReporterUpdated: Saturday, October 22, 2022, 09:16 PM IST
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Mumbai: Awaaz Foundation conducted the Annual Diwali Fireworks Noise Pollution Test, along with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), on decibel levels of various crackers found chemicals including barium that is banned in the usage of crackers.

The results of chemical tests were declared on Saturday by the Foundation. In the decibel tests conducted on Thursday (October 20), for the first time since 2008, when the tests were first conducted, none of the crackers had crossed the permissible decibel level.

"We analyzed the chemical content of commonly available firecrackers, and found chemicals banned by the Supreme Court including Barium in several of them," said Sumaira Abdulali, founder of Awaaz Foundation.

The tests also found the presence of other highly toxic chemicals banned under the Hazardous Chemicals Rules, like arsenic, sulphur and chlorine.

"In the interest of health of all citizens, please ensure that no firecrackers containing chemicals banned by the Supreme Court are distributed, sold or used in Maharashtra at any time," said Abdulali.

Last year, the presence of barium was openly displayed on firecracker packaging. Activists complained that this year, none of the boxes mentioned the presence of barium, although most crackers continue to contain barium.

In 2021, the Supreme Court expressed serious concern about the effect of hazardous chemicals on people’s health. The SC placed on record Awaaz findings in their Order dated October 29, 2021. The SC reiterated the ban on barium.

The SC then stated, “We again reiterate the directions issued by this Court earlier reproduced hereinabove including banning the use of Barium Salts in the firecrackers and manufacturing and selling joined firecrackers and other directions issued by this Court reproduced hereinabove. We direct all the States/Union Territories to see that the directions issued earlier by this Court and issued by this Court today are strictly complied with in its true spirit and in toto.

"Any lapse on the part of the State Governments/State Agencies and Union Territories shall be viewed very seriously and if it is found that any banned firecrackers are manufactured, sold and used in any particular area, the Chief Secretary of the concerned State(s), the Secretary (Homes) of the concerned State(s) and the Commissioner of Police of the concerned area, District Superintendent of Police of the concerned area and the SHO/Police Officer in-charge of the concerned police station shall be held personally liable. Nobody can be permitted to flout and/or disobey the directions issued.”

The Foundation, along with the MPCB, had conducted decibel tests at the RCF Grounds, Chembur, wherein in 16 different types of crackers were tested that included sparklers, pots, serial crackers, aerial crackers, chakris, and butterflies among others.

The permissible level is 120 decibels for each of the cracker on a single burst, and the maximum decibel noted this year was 114.

"Twenty two crackers we got for testing. We burst 16 types and all crackers were within the limit. None of the crackers crossed the prescribed limit. In the year 2019, there was one cracker that had decibel level of 140 but this time maximum is 114 decibel," said Sanjay Bhosale, regional officer, MPCB.

Last year, three crackers were more than the prescribed decibel level. Due to the Covid pandemic, there were no tests done in 2020.

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