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What “Green crackers” will bring this Diwali?

Dr. Sangeeta Soi
Dr. Sangeeta Soi

The Supreme Court while limiting the use of fireworks during all events from 8 to 10 pm window also instructed that only crackers with reduced emission and ‘green crackers’ can be manufactured and sold. The court observed that efforts have gone into producing such crackers. 

Dr. Rakesh Kumar, director the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI) and coordinator of this project said, “Green crackers are so named because they ‘do not contain harmful chemicals’ that would cause air pollution. Components in firecrackers are replaced with others that are ‘less dangerous’ and ‘less harmful’ to the atmosphere.”

To recall, this eco-friendly idea, proposed by Science & Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, was announced in January 2018. It was carried forward by a network of CSIR labs, including Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, National Botanical Research Institute and National Chemical Laboratory.

They are actually the improved version of the crackers or Green crackers with following properties.  Usage of charcoal meeting specifications of explosives and pyrotechnics as prescribed by PESO.  Avoidance of use of ash as desiccant or filler materials in crackers for the reduction in particulate matter by 15-20 percent. Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) can implement these subject to approval. 

Scientists have given these crackers names: Safe Water Releaser (SWAS), Safe Thermite Cracker (STAR) and Safe Minimal Aluminium (SAFAL). “It has the unique property of releasing water vapor and/or air as dust suppressant and diluent for gaseous emissions and matching performance in sound with conventional crackers,” researchers say. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization is testing and analyzing these crackers for safety and stability. 

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Some manufacturers from Sivakasi, Tamilnadu have already shown results by demonstration. The noise pollution and air pollution reduction are the main targets for the use of green crackers as the use of Aluminium and Barium will be used in restricted composition of PM 2.5.Aluminum is used as a fuel in fireworks and to give white brilliant sparkle. Barium (Ba) is added to give only attractive green colour which is not essential for pyrotechnics. The side effects of Aluminium is that it causes skin rashes or dermatitis whereas Ba salts emit poisonous gas causing respiratory problem in short- term exposure too and may have other health complications if exposed for long. Therefore banning these components is essential in order to protect the environment. PESO will take measures in the reduction of these components in coming time. 

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