Fireworks or pyrotechnic devices, as they are technically called are an integral part of many festivals and celebrations all over the world. In India, people wait eagerly for Diwali to enjoy different types of fireworks.
Harmful effects of firework is not just in India
Of-course Diwali is there but other countries also celebrate through fireworks. It includes Yanshui Festival in Taiwan, the Montreal International Fireworks Competition, Lantern Festival in Beijing, Guy Fawkes Night in the United Kingdom, and Independence Day celebrations in the USA. Though the experience of bursting crackers is thrilling, and they look stunning, we must not ignore the dangers of fireworks.
For the benefit of mother earth and her creatures, let us understand some adverse outcomes of fireworks. Three major effects of fireworks are on health, safety, and the environment.
Safety hazard :
Improper use of fireworks is risky for both the person operating them and bystanders. (risks of burns and wounds). They may start also fires on landing. There are many incidents of burns and fire reported due to fireworks. Due to this, the use of fireworks is legally restricted in many countries. In those countries, display fireworks are restricted for use by professionals only; smaller consumer versions may or may not be available to the public.
Birds and animals also get frightened by their noise and start running here and there. They hurt themselves on fences or in other ways in an attempt to escape the perceived danger. Frightened birds also may abandon nests and not return for their young ones. Fireworks can cause burns and wounds in animals too.
Environmental hazard :
There are many Harmful effects of firecrackers on the environment.The burning of fireworks releases a large number of air pollutants, mainly sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and particulate matter (PM) along with several metal salts, for example, Barium, Aluminium, Manganese, Arsenic, Lead and Cadmium. Some of the gases are greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.
Air quality in Northern India is recorded as worst after Diwali. Different color of the light in firecrackers depends on the metal in the firework. For example, the blue color comes from copper and cobalt ions. The typical smell of fireworks is mainly due to sulfur dioxide.
To produce the oxygen needed for an explosion in fireworks, oxidizers known as perchlorates as added. These dissolve in water, contaminating water bodies. Leftovers and residues from fireworks cause land pollution. Most of the firework-related festivals and events take place in the world during autumn and winter when temperatures and wind speeds are typically low. This timing can encourage the build-up of pollution. When used at ground level, people can also get directly exposed to metallic fumes released from handheld firecrackers, such as sparklers.
Health hazard :
Sore throat after fireworks is commonly seen in people. A runny nose, headache, burning eyes and nose, and shortness of breath is also common complaint. But that is not all. Fireworks are associated with more severe health hazards and can make the overall immune system more vulnerable to other diseases, including COVID, flu, and pneumonia. For people with asthma, CPOD or chemical sensitivity the smoke from fireworks may aggravate existing health problems. This is more severe in the case of children than adults. Particulate matter of size less than 2.5 microns is a matter of high concern and this PM2.5 increases considerably post-Diwali.
Common problems in India from fireworks
In India, there is a sharp increase in the cases of wheezing, respiratory diseases, exacerbation of bronchial asthma, and bronchitis in patients of all ages and gender after Diwali celebrations. The number of hospitalizations due to breathing issues also increases during that time of the year. The data clearly shows a direct link between fireworks and respiratory health.
When you inhale smoke from fireworks, it may cause respiratory problems such as severe coughing, wheezing, chronic or allergic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis, pneumonia, and laryngitis. Depending on symptoms treatment for smoke inhalation is given.
If the symptoms are severe like chest pain/ tightness, choking, dizziness, nauseated, vomiting, or double vision, the person must be immediately rushed to the doctor. If unconscious, he might be given CPR immediately till the time help arrives. Some people need to be put on oxygen for treatment through a mask or tube.
Home remedy for post-Diwali
For minor discomforts post-fireworks, try these simple home remedies
- Drink plenty of water
- Use a saline spray for a blocked or irritated nose
- Rinse sinus with a neti pot
- Do steam inhalation with eucalyptus oil or thyme.
- Add foods with vitamin C and antioxidants to your diets like fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Add herbs with anti-inflammatory properties to your diet for ex ginger, turmeric
- Humidify your living space with the help of a humidifier
- Do pranayama and breathing exercises to improve lung function
Apart from this, gases from fireworks can trigger cardiovascular illnesses too.
Perchlorates in drinking water can also impact thyroid hormone production critical for the growth and development of the nervous system. The loud noise of fireworks can cause temporary deafness, eardrum rupture, trauma, and hypertension and trigger mental health episodes in those who suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Harmful fumes from crackers can lead to miscarriage in pregnant women. Hence, they are advised to stay at home when the crackers firing is at peak. Exposure
to harmful chemicals from fireworks can hinder the growth in children and increases the toxic levels in their bodies.
Human activities are already causing a lot of environmental problems including climate change. We are also compromising on our health by making poor lifestyle and dietary choices. In such a scenario, we can avoid adding one more devil called fireworks.
Diwali is a festival of lights. Let’s celebrate a noise-free and pollution-free Diwali to save our environment and health as well.