Green Firecrackers

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Bursting of firecrackers at small-medium-large scale have been an integral part of people’s life in the whole regions of the country or world in general and in urban population in particular during celebration occasions related to festivals, sports, marriages, New Year parties etc. as a source of enjoyment or symbol of prosperity. Firecrackers of different capacities in terms of their burning time, thunder generation, creation of spectacular shows are easily available in the market with no cost barriers.  With rising level of concern about environmental hygiene among masses due to unbearable environmental conditions prevailing in terms of different types of manmade pollution hazards from bursting of firecrackers and possibility of health risks while playing with fire, the use of firecrackers has come under legal scanner in the country. Recently Supreme Court of India has allowed the use firecrackers only for two hours on the eve of Diwali festival. Court has also stressed on the need of using green crackers. In the present article efforts will be made to make the reader understand about green crackers. The firecracker industry is a huge industry, that gives employment to thousands of fire workers, moreover, India also exports most of its fireworks to foreign countries such as Singapore and Srilanka which cannot put end to complete firecracker industry hence it is moving towards producing environmental friendly green crackers. Green crackers are also said use fewer chemicals, emit less smoke, less sulfur, less potassium nitrate and will make less noise.

Makes a firecracker

Traditional firecrackers contain oxidizers which are oxygen-rich substances which help the fireworks burn for a longer time. Commonly used oxidizers are nitrates, perchlorates, and chlorates. Sulfur is a major ingredient of the crackers. Fireworks designed to make noise use more of sulfur while those designed to create light use more of phosphorus while other fireworks use strontium and potassium. The lighting of a mixture of these fireworks leads to emissions of gasses containing these various elements. The firecrackers contain ingredients such as flash powder, cordite, black powder that are harmful to the environment. They release enormous amounts of smoke too pollutes the breathing air. It’s Strontium, Barium and other harmful metals releases toxic gases which contain harmful polychlorinated hydrocarbons are very harmful to human beings.

Health hazards

A firecracker has an explosive material that produces a large amount of noise on firing. The firecrackers contain ingredients such as flash powder, cordite, black powder that are harmful to the environment. They release enormous amounts of smoke too pollutes the breathing air. It’s Strontium, Barium and other harmful metals releases toxic gases which contain harmful polychlorinated hydrocarbons are very harmful to human beings. A key ingredient in several crackers is perchlorate and replacing them with nitrogen-rich materials or nitrocellulose could make them burn cleaner and produce less smoke. Other than smoke-aggravating partially-burnt paper that sheaths the gunpowder in crackers, metals in fireworks such as strontium and barium are toxic to human and animal health, and the burning process produces other harmful emissions such as polychlorinated hydrocarbons. Studies have shown that perchlorates can interfere with normal iodine production in the thyroid gland, causing hormonal imbalance and other related problems. It has also been noted that perchlorates negatively impact embryo growth. Several studies have shown that barium can affect a person’s breathing because it acts on the passageways in the lungs and constricts them, which affects normal respiration.

Green firecrackers

Fire crackers have always offered the child within us penultimate thrill and joy, but as we grew up and realized the damage that they cause to the environment, to the body and our wallet, we slowly began to distance ourselves from them.  Presently,  firecrackers are being temporarily banned, and schoolchildren, conservationists and animal lovers have initiated social media campaigns against bursting them then there is a need of developing ‘green’ firecrackers that are safer, smoke-free and most important reusable. These green crackers have ingredients that have less polluting chemicals in its composition. The new chemical composition in green crackers have nitrogen-rich nitrocellulose that produces less smoke, chemical mixture, unlike the former crackers, hence releases less harmful gases. A lot of research is going on in the R&D departments of Indian firecracker industry to come up with complete green crackers in all forms of cracker varieties. The fireworks companies are inviting the environmental departments to check their firecrackers ingredients and material and their eco-friendly measures in the making of green crackers. National and international research laboratories are working to reduce pollution from firecrackers. Efforts at various levels are going on in order to not only minimize the use of firecrackers but also to develop green firecrackers that are more environment friendly. It is said that several CSIR laboratories have come together and are putting together a robust S&T strategy for development of eco-friendly firecrackers and fireworks. The first phase will cover reduction of pollutants, while future strategies will cover removal of pollutants from the compositions. Researchers in the US have supposedly found an alternative to traditional production of firecrackers, which is said to have less impact on the environment. A study showed that using nitrocellulose in place of perchlorate made the fireworks burn cleaner and produce less smoke.   It further added that using nitrogen-based products would cut down on the usage of heavy metals in the manufacturing of fireworks, which could potentially mean that there would be less health risks. However, how all this would translate practically remains unknown.

Limitations

  • Scientists have already come down to the factories making firecrackers to do the groundwork and see how the crackers can be made more environmentally friendly but this will take time.
  • Green crackers will be costlier however the makers say they are also working towards producing less expensive ones.
  • No one can say that using these green firecrackers will help to reduce overall environmental air and sound pollution.

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