Happy Diwali… pros and cons of firecrackers

With the SC ban on bursting crackers, are children and parents still faced with a dilemma whether to burst crackers or not?

Next three days of Diwali festival, as the tradition goes, Hindus light diyas and burst crackers celebrating the return of Lord Rama. Diwali also marks the victory of good over evil.

With pollution at dangerous levels at Delhi, Last year, Supreme Court had banned bursting crackers only in Delhi. This year, Delhi continued with restrictions on bursting crackers, Supreme Court has imposed partial ban in rest the country. Supreme Court has imposed timings to burst crackers during the 3-day festival from 8pm to 10pm.

As all know, the smoke emitted by the fire crackers Aluminium, barium, potassium nitrate and carbon are toxic and create many health issues. The smoke causes many respiratory and lung diseases among young and the old. Apart from smoke, the cracker related accidents and the noise pollution is hurting humans, animals and birds equally.

Is there a benefit of bursting crackers in Hinduism? YES!

Apart from enhancing festive mood, the Hindu tradition of bursting crackers seems to have a very significant scientific benefit. Well, it has been acknowledged that the cracker smoke wards of mosquitoes and insects, thus reducing mosquitoes borne diseases. Post rainy season, as water stagnates everywhere, mosquitoes borne diseases also increases.

Ancient India knew saltpetre, one of the simplest ways of using it to destroy such insects. Saltpetre used as a basic ingredient to explode firecrackers thereby keeping water-borne & contaminable diseases at bay. This reasoning has been acknowledged by scientific community. According to a news report in 2003, when Delhi was reeling with Dengue, health officials and doctors had requested Delhi govt to allow people to burst fire crackers so they could ward off mosquitoes.

What is green cracker?

Apart from time frame for bursting crackers, SC also announced the usage of less polluting fire crackers or green fire crackers.

Normal crackers have 4 harmful pollution causing chemicals- Aluminium, barium, potassium nitrate and carbon. In green crackers these chemicals have either been removed or reduced to cut emissions by 15-30%. These green crackers are jointly developed by scientists in Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI). Further these green crackers are 30% cheaper to manufacture. Well, since it is in the testing stage still, this Diwali we may not be available according to the Union Minister for Science and Technology, Harsh Vardhan.

Fun Facts:

  • According to Scientific American, firecracker found its origin in China. Chinese used fire crackers to scare off abnormally huge mountain men or even evil spirits. The earliest documentation of fireworks dates back to 7th century China.(1)
  • Firecrackers are just chemical reactions:It needs just an oxidizer, a fuel and a chemical mixture to produce the color.  In the case of early fireworks, saltpeter was the oxidizing ingredient that drove the reaction, as British scholar Roger Bacon figured out in the early 1200s. Interestingly, Bacon kept his findings a secret, writing them in code to keep them out of the wrong hands.(1)
  • China may have invented the firework, but Italy invented the aerial shell (and also made fireworks colorful).(2)
  • China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of fireworks in the world. 90% of all fireworks originate from here.(2)
  • At first fireworks were only orange and white. In the Middle Ages new colours were achieved by adding different salts. The hardest colour to create is blue.(2)

Whether it is lung diseases or dengue, the only solution is, each one should take care of the environment responsibly. Happy Diwali…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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