AIR spotlight summary on “Festivity and Air Pollution”
All the festivals we now celebrate we see bursting of crackers. There is a pollution spike during this period which is very unhealthy.
The reasons for increased Air Pollution during festival season are:
- There will be increase in travelling due meeting of dear ones, going out for shopping, all these involve extra travelling on road which in turn creates lot of traffic jam as well as slows down the traffic and that results into traffic pollution.
- Another reason is having large sweetmeats all over the country. The preparation process adds more fire by burning of big bhattis which consumes large amount of fuel and in some places firewood is used.
- Large number of lamps burning simultaneously at once. During night when the temperature is low and the air is heavy and then the bursting of crackers takes place which produce more noise pollution and huge quantities of toxic gases are produced such as sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen.
- The sparkle of different colours consists of large number of heavy metals which are highly toxic. As the air is heavy the gases are not easily dispersed and therefore it hangs. Sometimes it becomes difficult to breathe particularly for children, elderly and pregnant women who suffer a lot.
- In the last few years campaigns have been done in schools, resident welfare associations about educating people and children about the ill effects of bursting crackers. There was a dip in 1 or 2 years, but again the amount of crackers brought and burnt has gone up.
Issue of bursting of crackers
- In cities the bursting of crackers is more intense partly because of more money in people’s hand and in cities the exhibitionism is much more. In cities large number of young children is suffering from asthma and has respiratory problems.
- The festivals where bursting of crackers takes place are restricted from the month of October to January. During this time the climate is such that there is heavy air descending over the city because of lowering of temperature. The wind velocity will also be very low and so the air remains stagnant and the pollutants are not allowed to disperse.
- Last year the pollution levels during night were 6 times more than the normal level which was slightly better than 2014 and in 2013 it reached the record high level of pollution. If we consider exactly at the breathing point in the colonies the pollution levels are many times more.
- The permissible levels are 80 micro grams per cubic meter for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. 100 micro grams per cubic meter for PM10 and 60 micro grams per cubic meter for PM2.5.
Pollution caused by imported crackers
- The imported crackers are far more pollution creating than the indigenous ones. Most of the Chinese crackers contain potassium chlorate which is very poisonous. The fanciness of the crackers by injecting metal elements which causes multiple colours is the one which is more dangerous.
- The outside crackers do not have any control over the noise level and it goes to around 150 db and during night it becomes difficult for people to sleep.
- All this leads to obliteration of long distance visibility which is resulting into accidents and delay in aircraft. It has enormous cost in terms of health and money.
Need of the Hour
- We need to ban the imported crackers and enforce strict regulations. Imported crackers will take away the jobs from our people, business opportunity and we should encourage indigenous production. Indigenous production should be controlled according to the prescription in terms of quantity of pollutants and the bursting noise level.
- The individual celebration should give rise to collective and community celebration. The festivals are best enjoyed with a community rather than being alone. The kind of a fiat culture that the urbanisation has introduced is really responsible for not having community participation.
- One of the major centres of production in India is sivakasi where in unorganised production large numbers of children are employed. They are exploited very badly and they suffer because of dangerous chemicals. The manufacturers must give a guarantee that the adults were responsible for making crackers. We should shun those products where such declaration does not exist.
- Better regulation and proper investigation before they are sold in the market that the products conform to the sound levels which are prescribed.
- We should encourage earthen lamps rather than using electronic lamps. Making own lamps encourage to get involved in the festival celebrations. These ideas are floated by sensible people but the society is going towards readymade items and the market is offering these to the people.
- We need to convey to the society the real time information about the health problems that arise out of this peak festival occasion. We should continue the campaign rather than having one time campaign and further enlarge upon it. People have to be reminded again and again.