While neither state government, nor BMC imposed a ban on bursting crackers like a few other states, a city activist has urged the Maharashtra government to ban all kinds of firecrackers with immediate effect. Convenor of Awaaz Foundation Sumaira Abdulali on Friday wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray claiming that the effects of these crackers will be even more dangerous amid COVID-19 time given the air pollution and negative effects they cause on respiratory system.
Awaaz Foundation tested commonly available firecrackers in a private laboratory and compared the chemical composition with entries listed in Schedule I ‘List of Hazardous and Toxic Chemicals’ of Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules 1989.
In a letter to the chief minister and state Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray, Abdulali said that "extremely high" noise levels of firecrackers tested jointly with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) in 2019, which make them "unsuitable" for use in residential areas.
This year, Abdulali and her team tested commonly available firecrackers in a private laboratory.
"The sample of crackers tested, details chemical content where there is a significant proportion of the chemical present. When these chemicals are burnt, they form oxides, some of which are extremely toxic to human health -- including sulphur trioxide, vanadium pentoxide, potassium oxides and copper oxides," said Abdulali.
"All of these and their oxides are listed as toxic chemicals under the (hazardous chemicals) rules. These harmful chemicals are released into the air and form components of air pollution experienced during periods such as Diwali," she said.
The NGO pointed out that while procuring over 40 types/samples of firecrackers this year, no ‘green firecrackers’ were available in the market. They were instead handed over firecrackers that burst colour green. "During analysis, we found that these crackers contained hazardous chemicals including banned chemical barium,” she said.
With the MPCB postponing its annual noise pollution testing this year until further notice, Abdulali pointed towards the results of last year which indicated "extremely high levels" of noise pollution of most tested crackers, "making them unsuitable for use in any residential area".
She has requested the state government to consider the "serious hazard" to human health indicated by the test result of dangerous chemicals contained in the firecrackers.