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Explained: What are green crackers & how do we identify them?

According to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), green crackers are permitted only in cities and towns where air quality is moderate or poor,” Dr Khaiwal said. Prof Mor added that there is reduction in emission of sound as well in green crackers.

green crackers news, festival, air quality news, indian expressGreen crackers are permitted only in cities and towns where air quality is moderate or poor,” Dr Khaiwal said. (Express Photo/ Representative)

As Chandigarh allows the use of green crackers, PGI’s Dr Ravindra Khaiwal, Additional Professor of Environment, Health, Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, recognised as one of the top environmental scientists of India, and Dr Suman Mor, Chairperson, Department of Environment Studies, Panjab University, speak to HINA ROHTAKI about how one should identify green crackers and the harmful toxins crackers emit.

What is the difference between green crackers and traditional crackers?

According to Dr Khawal and Prof Mor, both green crackers and traditional crackers cause pollution and people should refrain from using either. However, the only difference is that green crackers cause 30 per cent less air pollution as compared to traditional ones. “Green crackers reduce emissions substantially and absorb dust and don’t contain hazardous elements like barium nitrate. Toxic metals in traditional crackers are replaced with less hazardous compounds. According to the National Green Tribunal (NGT), green crackers are permitted only in cities and towns where air quality is moderate or poor,” Dr Khaiwal said. Prof Mor added that there is reduction in emission of sound as well in green crackers.

With the UT only allowing use of green crackers, how does one identify and differentiate them?

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Dr Khaiwal and Prof Mor said that one should look for green crackers falling only in these three categories- SWAS, SAFAL and STAR: the crackers developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). “SWAS, that is “safe water releaser” should have have a small water pocket/droplets which get released when burst, in the form of vapour,” Prof Mor said.

“SWAS is safe water releaser, which suppresses the dust released by releasing water vapour in the air. It does not comprise potassium nitrate and sulphur and the particulate dust released will reduce approximately by 30 per cent.

Similarly, STAR is the safe thermite cracker, which does not comprise potassium nitrate and sulphur, emits reduced particulate matter disposal and reduced sound intensity. SAFAL is safe minimal aluminium which has minimum usage of aluminium, and used magnesium instead. It ensures reduction in sound in comparison to traditional crackers,” Prof Mor said.

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They also suggested not to buy green crackers from street vendors and only from licensed sellers.

“I would also suggest that if chemical identification cannot be done, the identification of green crackers can be done through the CSIR NEERI logo. The scanner may be downloaded using the CSIR NEERI green QR code app from Google Playstore,” Dr Khaiwal added.

What are the toxic metals that traditional crackers release?

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Crackers release several toxic metals that can be harmful for health. The white color emitted through crackers is aluminium, magnesium and titanium, while the orange colour is carbon or iron. Similarly, yellow agents are sodium compounds while blue and red are copper compounds and strontium carbonates. The green agent is barium mono chloride salts or barium nitrate or barium chlorate.

What damage and harm can these chemicals do when a person is exposed? Who is vulnerable to the exposure?

According to Dr Khaiwal, lead in crackers impact the nervous system while copper triggers respiratory tract irritation, sodium causes skin issues and magnesium leads to mental fume fever. Cadmium not just causes anemia but also damages the kidney while nitrate is the most harmful that causes mental impairment. The presence of nitrite causes irritation in mucous membrane, eyes and skin. He also added that the most vulnerable population though are infants, children, pregnant women, elderly and people with underlying medical conditions. Yet no one remains untouched from the harm these chemicals cause.

What should people keep in mind while bursting green crackers?

We suggest people that they buy green crackers only from a licensed shop and not from street vendors. People should prefer using a long candle or phooljhari for igniting these crackers and keep elbow joint straight to increase the distance between the body and the cracker, rather keep them at arm’s length. “I would also suggest to wear shoes while bursting crackers and burst these at open spaces like playgrounds. Keep a couple of buckets of water handy while lighting the green crackers,” Dr Khaiwal said. Prof Mor added that the green crackers should not be burnt in crowded areas and long loose synthetic clothes should not be worn while
bursting them.

Why are green crackers being preferred over conventional ones?

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Dr Khaiwal said, “Firecrackers made with reduction in size of shell, elimination of ash usage, reduced usage of raw materials, uniform acceptable quality, etc., leading to reduction of particulate matter and gaseous emission is why green crackers are being preferred”.

First published on: 18-10-2022 at 08:40 IST
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