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Environment Minister Urges Scientists To Produce ‘Pollution-Free Crackers’- Is That Even Possible?
Harsh Vardhan's statement came in the backdrop of a debate on pollution due to the bursting of firecrackers and the Supreme Court temporarily banning their sale in Delhi and the National Capital Region earlier this month
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In an event called ‘Run for Clean Air’ campaign in New Delhi on Sunday, as a part of the ‘Clean Air Campaign’, Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change told the gathering that he has urged scientists to develop zero-pollution firecrackers that do not cause health hazards to children. The event was attended by around 10,000 students from various schools in Delhi-NCR.
“Dr. Harsh Vardhan told the gathering of students that the scientists have been asked to develop zero-pollution firecrackers that do not cause health hazards to children,” the Union Environment Ministry said in a statement. "At the India International Science festival, we told our scientists to create zero-pollution crackers in future so that they don't adversely impact the health of people and also the business of traders," Harsh Vardhan said at the "Run for Clean Air" mini-marathon at the India Gate.
“A conclave of scientists will be held (after Diwali) and we will ensure that we produce crackers for the country which will have zero pollution and zero side effect on the health of children,” the Environment minister said. His statement came in the backdrop of a debate on pollution due to the bursting of firecrackers and the Supreme Court temporarily banning their sale in Delhi and the National Capital Region earlier this month.
Fireworks generate smoke and dust that may contain deposits of heavy metals, sulphur-coal compounds and some low concentration toxic chemicals. These by-products of fireworks burning will vary depending on the combination of constituents of a particular firework. This is a subject of much debate due to the fact that large-scale pollution from other sources makes it difficult to measure the amount of pollution that comes explicitly from fireworks.
Pollutants from fireworks raise concerns because of potential health dangers associated with dangerous by-products. For most people the effects of contact to low levels of toxins from many sources over long periods are indefinite. For persons with asthma or multiple chemical sensitivity, the smoke from fireworks may exacerbate existing health problems. Environmental pollution is also a worry because heavy metals and other chemicals from fireworks may contaminate water supplies and because fireworks combustion gases might add to acid rain which can cause vegetation and even property deterioration. However, gunpowder smoke and the solid residues are basic, and as such the net effect of fireworks on acid rain is arguable. The carbon used in fireworks is produced from wood and does not lead to additional carbon dioxide in the air. What is not uncertain is that most consumer fireworks leave behind a substantial amount of solid debris, including both readily biodegradable components as well as non-degradable plastic items, which has to be kept into account when making pollution-free crackers.
Others argue that alleged concern over pollution from fireworks constitutes a red herring since the amount of contamination from fireworks is negligible in comparison to emissions from sources such as the combustion of fossil fuels. Therefore some claim that a cracker-less Diwali in Delhi will have a negligible impact on air quality, which continues to be poor in New Delhi.
Whatever the case may be, the urging of scientists by the Environment Minister to develop pollution-free crackers and fireworks will be seen as a welcome move by environmentalists.