‘Firecrackers flout noise norms, have high heavy metal levels’

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SummaryAs per the report, while all serial crackers crossed the threshold of accepted noise limits.

Tests conducted on firecrackers by NGO Awaaz Foundation and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) have revealed that several companies are flouting Supreme Court directives on noise levels as well as the quantity of heavy metals in their products. As per the report, while all serial crackers crossed the threshold of accepted noise limits, with a majority recording more than 125 dB, 11 of 14 crackers tested contained heavy metal s beyond permissible limits.

“All heavy metals are harmful and many are banned under the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Rules, 1989,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of Awaaz Foundation.

As per Supreme Court directives, the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has issued a circular asking manufacturers to list the chemical composition on the box of firecrackers. Abdulali, however, said many manufacturers had either not listed the chemical composition or had given incomplete information on the boxes.

The common heavy metals used for colour effects in crackers are aluminum, lead, mercury and copper. “Ideally, the level of heavy metals in the atmosphere should be zero. Mercury is known to cause dementia, high blood pressure and heart diseases, while lead remains in the bones for years,” said Dr Altaf Patel, physician at Jaslok Hospital.

With crackers being burst at clustered spaces in the city, people are directly exposed to not only smoke, but also to heavy metal fallout. According to Patel, copper is essential in small quantities, but in larger doses, it can affect the liver.

Iron, titanium, zinc and vanadium are hazardous, though the effects takes years to be noticed.

Awaaz Foundation also tested noise levels of crackers and found out that of the 27 crackers tested, 17 did not specify noise levels on

the packets.

“While the use of crackers have reduced over the last few years, the decibel levels remain the same. Serial crackers and rassi bombs exceed maximum permissible limits,” Abdulali said. Under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the noise level of fire crackers, generating more than 125 dB or 145 dB at a four meter distance from the point of bursting, is

prohibited.

But rockets and rassi bombs produce more than 125 dB. “We recorded rockets from the ground and the noise level was 125 dB,” she added. As per noise pollution rules, noise levels cannot exceed 45 dB in silent zones, 55 dB in residential areas and 75 dB in industrial areas after 10 pm.

tabassum.barnagarwala@expressindia.com

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