Five Reasons Why Diwali Firecrackers Are the Worst for Health!
(This article was first published on 7 February, 2017. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives in light of the Supreme Court’s order to ban the entry of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR for Dussehra and Diwali.)
It’s that time of the year, when along with the annual ritual of ‘saaf-safai’ at home, journalists dust off their once-a-year Diwali noise pollution story.
Now before you go all *yawn* on me, I’ll give you five solid reasons why firecrackers are actually the worst and why you should put an end to this idiocy and do something you’ll actually be proud of this Diwali:
1) They Can Stop Your Heart, Make You Deaf and Flare Up Your Asthma!
And I’m not even talking about the environmental impact crackers have on Mother Earth. All the sound and fury of Diwali can do more than just hurt your ears. A new study done by the World Health Organisation, in 2013, found that sudden noise pollution is harmful for heart diseases, hypertension, lack of sleep and even cognitive development in kids.
Too much loud noise increases the risk of a heart attack by 30% in people with a pre-existing condition.
Anything above 70 decibels of sound over one night is associated with higher rates of hospital admissions for stroke - 5% higher in people in the 25 to 74 age group and about 10% higher among those over 75. The overall mortality risk also shoots up by 4% on noisy nights like those during Diwali. The study was published in the European Heart Journal, adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic factors, ethnicity, smoking and air pollution.
(FYI, air pollution shoots up by at least 30% after Diwali)
2) They Horrify Your Pets!
People who scare pets with crackers are the worst! They must be instantly stopped because the sound of a pet whining with fear is the most upsetting.
3) These Are Just Explosives with Stupid Names!
The ingredients of a cracker:
- Potassium chlorate
- Sulphur Dioxide
- Barium green
- Sodium yellow
A glorified explosive without the gunpowder, I say!
Folklore has it that some 2000 years ago, the Chinese discovered firecrackers by accident. They used to burn bamboo to mark the Lunar New Year. As the bamboo caught fire, air in the bamboo expanded and it burst. The ‘popping’ sound was the first firecracker.
This year, ‘Funny Bunny’ will be competing with ‘Cool Chicks’ as ‘Chilli First’ will try to steal the thunder of ‘Pataka Maska’, ‘Baby Doll’ and ‘Bhaijaan’. But all these crackers collectively try and mentally impair the newborns exposed to their harmful toxins, the high magnesium content can cause wheezing, shortness of breath and even affect the central nervous system of pregnant women, cause hearing loss in the elderly and scare the poor animals to death.
4) It Leaves Your Ears Ringing
Stand for just a couple of ‘laddi’s’ to blow off and you’ll notice your ears experience a muffled hearing - it is actually a temporary bout of tinnitus.
The standard tipping point is 85 decibels and prolonged exposure to loud noise can lead to deafness. On Diwali night, the average sound level in the Capital, post 8 pm, crosses 100 to 120 dB which can damage your hearing permanently.
How can you protect yourself?
Earplugs, earplugs, earplugs. If you are prone to ear issues, then stay indoors with your babies and pets.
5) People Always Get Burnt!
And something always gets damaged.
Last year, in the Capital alone, there were 450 burn injuries. Even though there were no reported deaths, some injuries were very extensive. Every year, the government sets up a disaster management protocol for three days during Diwali to monitor the burn victims. Special teams of doctors and nurses work all night on Diwali because of the number of casualties which come in.
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