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Festivals and Pollution

Todays world pollution is a big concern and it poses serious threat to the human health and environment. With unprecedented expansion in population, the pollution in India has sky rocketed. The pollution in India shoots up abruptly due to various factors and the pollution due to festivals is also one among them. The practice of immersion of Ganesh idols after the Ganesh festival in various cities is causing severe water pollution which leads to the death of tonnes of fish and many aquatic creatures. Gone are the days when the idols are made with clay, nowadays idols are made with Plaster Of Paris and chemical dyes. The repeated cautions and warnings of ecologists and environmental scientists towards the possible hazards inflicted by the Plaster Of Paris are falling into the deaf ears of the idol makers and buyers. According to scientists, Plaster Of Paris does not get dissolved or disintegrated fast. Moreover, the chemical dyes and colours being used to colour the idols contain poisonous elements. Particularly, Red, Blue, Orange and Green colours contain Mercury, Zinc oxide, Chromium and Lead, the potential causes of developing cancer. According to one estimate, 7500 idols of Ganesh are weighing about 20,000 kg or in other words, 20 tons. The sea-shore of Mumbai absorbs the immersion of about 1.5 lakh idols every year. The very calculation of the accumulation of clay, Plaster Of Paris, dangerous Chemicals from the paints and colours will shatter the thinking faculty of any brain. The immersion of Durga Statutes during the Durga pooja is also a cause of concern for environmentalists. In Orissa alone 5,000 Durga pooja idols are made, most of them using harmful paints. Heavy metals like lead and chrome are not easily assimilated in an aquatic environment and can lead to the massive hurt of flora and fauna of the river, pond, lake and coastal areas. As the same river, pond and lake water is used for bathing and drinking purpose high levels of lead can damage the heart, kidneys, liver, circulatory system and central nervous system, the environmentalist warned.

As Ganesh festival and Durga pooja is troubling the aquatic creatures largely, Holi, a festival of vibrant hues that brings with it a variety of colours is harmful to human beings. The seemingly harmless, pleasing to eye colours are synthetic and toxic because of the presence of cheap materials like mica, acids, alkalis, pieces of glass, which not only induce skin disorders like abrasion, irritation, itching but can impair vision, cause respiratory problems and also cancer. Diwali, one of the important festivals in India has the distinction of polluting the environment to the core. Newborns and aged people have a nightmarish experience because of the high levels of sound caused by crackers during Diwali. Noise pollution on Diwali is between 69.7 db and 88.3 db which are higher than the prescribed limit of 50 db. The decibel levels alarmingly high in metros and it may reach up to 100 db. Crackers are sometimes manufactured using barium sulphate, sodium nitrate, sulphur and potassium chlorate and when burnt, emit gases such as sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, oxides of heavy metals and particulate matter that pollute the air and cause eye irritation, respiratory disorders and allergies. The government, police, pollution control boards are suggesting many alternative ways to celebrate festivals which does not pollute the environment. Even strict and stringent warnings are also given to public to refrain from bursting crackers such as atom bombs, hydrogen bombs, bullet bombs, thousand and ten thousand wallas. But it is all solely depend on the change of mind.

Festival of Air and Noise Pollution

There are numerous types of festivals in the world. Though many have religious origins, others involve seasonal change or have some cultural significance. In every months many festival comes and fill colors in our life. Every festival takes an important part in the life of different peoples from different communities of India. Crackers hold a fascination for both young and old alike. Crackers of varied colors and sounds fill the skies heralding Indias favorite festival. But these crackers spoil our environment by causing noise and air pollution and also affect our health. The smoke of fireworks consists mainly of fine toxic dusts and chemicals that easily enter the lungs and represents a real danger for those already sick as well as for the healthy.

Asthma patients beware

Asthma patients staying in congested localities are more likely to suffer as the smoke generated by fire crackers does not disperse easily. If you or your family member suffers from breathing problems, then its time to start taking precautions.

People should avoid bursting crackers in the building compounds, narrow lanes and congested areas. Keeping inhalers handy and avoiding direct exposure to the smoke can help reduce the risk. People with breathing diseases should stay indoor to avoid inhaling smoke from outside. People suffering from asthma can increase medication and should immediately approach the doctors if the problem aggravates. The people who suffer with illnesses of the respiratory system and circulation problems must be advised to avoid highly polluted areas and avoid sudden temperature change. Dont light crackers inside the house. Use open grounds to light fireworks never light them in balconies or near buildings.

Precautions against Noise pollution

The use of fire crackers during the festive season of Dussehra and Diwali pose health hazards causing noise and air pollution. Noise pollution can cause hearing loss, high blood pressure, heart attack and sleep disturbances. Following precautions can be taken during this festive season Diwali.

Crackers producing noise should not be burst between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Crackers which bear the Supreme Court instructions and noise pollution levels alone should be purchased. Wear earplugs when going to rock concerts or fireworks exhibits. Earplugs, properly worn, can reduce noise by 15 to 30 decibels. Prohibit setting of crackers in the silence zones (that is the areas within 100 meters of hospitals, educational institutions, courts and religious places). Spread awareness about the noise and air pollution that they cause. In case of ear trauma, it is advisable not to instill any eardrop, nor try to clean the ear by oneself or by untrained personnel. Ban fire-crackers with a decibel level of more than 100 at a distance of 4 meters from the bursting point. Protect your children by avoiding loud noise. Minor damage at a young age can lead to major hearing loss. Noise from a firecracker, even at what might seem to be a safe distance, can lead to hearing loss in just minutes. Hearing loss come side effects such as balance problems, permanent ringing in the ears and headaches. Apart from the air and noise pollution, the streets are littered with paper. Organize Neighborhood Cleanup programs or events to keep our environment clean. Please refrain from buying fire crackers which exceeded prescribed noise limit. People should make this festival clean, green and healthy

Help apartment owners to plan a No Crackers campaign to reach out to the whole community.

Crackers cause tremendous air and noise pollution, trouble animals and senior citizens, and result in fatal accidents. It is uncomfortable feelings for sick, pregnant, senior citizens and infants. It affects them physically and mentally. There are many others methods through which we can celebrate our festivals. Pledge cracker-free Diwali and motivate your friends and relatives to promote No Crackers campaign and save environment. We should celebrate our festivals with lighting Diyas, decorating with flowers and distributing sweets, gifts and happiness.
Air pollution during Diwali Studies by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) around Delhi conclude that this year, RSPM levels during Diwali doubled compared to 2006. A Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) study last year showed a 6-10% percent increase in air pollution during Diwali. Clearly environmental groups and eco-clubs are fighting a losing battle. They come up with awareness campaigns and slogans like Diwali is a festival of lights, not crackers, celebrate an eco-sensitive Diwali this year, but nobody seems to take notice. Apart from the noise, crackers release a lot of toxic gases like Sulfur dioxide and Nitrogen dioxide which can lead to many health problems. Impact of air pollution on health Air pollution can lead to lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and allergies in adults. It can also cause acute respiratory infections in children. Suspended particulate matter can cause asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory disease

Sulfur dioxide can damage lungs and lead to lung disorders like wheezing and shortness of breath.

Oxides of Nitrogen can cause skin problems, eye irritation, and cause respiratory problems in children.

Chemicals used in crackers like lead, magnesium, cadmium, nitrate, sodium, and others can have various harmful effects.