The relatively less noisy, light and colour-emitting firecrackers may not be as safe as you thought. Tests conducted by the Awaaz Foundation on some commonly available firecrackers to determine their heavy metal content, which gives the crackers their special effect and colour, have shown that most manufacturers do not mention the chemical content on the box. The few who do list it, do not mention the same accurately and with adequate detail.
According to the report, only three of the 17 crackers which were tested had any detail about the composition. In most cases, the list of heavy metals mentioned on the boxes was brief, leaving out many hazardous heavy metals actually contained in them. The crackers which were tested include four colour sparklers, multicoloured pots, Anar green, Anar red, Vulcano Rassi bombs, shooting star, 7 shots and more.
“While conducting the tests, I discovered that noisy crackers do not contain as much heavy metal as other crackers like sparklers and anars which we believe to be less harmful. Most of them do not mention the number of heavy metals that have been used, all of which have been banned under the Hazardous Chemicals rules of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,” explained Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation.
Shockingly, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) or Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) has not mandated any standards for the amount of specific heavy metals to be used in crackers, leaving the manufacturers free to decide. Because manufacturers do not declare the heavy metal composition, this leaves users more vulnerable to the toxic effects of heavy metals.
P K Mirashe, Joint Director, MPCB, admitted that there are no guidelines or statutory norms which make it mandatory for manufacturers to declare heavy metal components and their harmful effects on human health. “Ideally, they should declare the heavy metal content so that users are aware about their toxicity. Only some specific chemical compounds have been banned but heavy metals are not. At MPCB, we are concerned about the noise impact, PESO should issue guidelines for limiting heavy metal content,” said Mirashe.
Despite repeated attempts, PESO officials were not available for comment.