A day after joint testing of crackers was conducted by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and NGO Awaaz Foundation, Sumaira Abdulali, convenor of the foundation, urged the state government to confiscate all crackers (green and non-green) that do not specify or follow health-based safety standards, before the sale and use across Maharashtra.
The MPCB and Awaaz Foundation on Thursday evening tested firecrackers for compliance with noise standards at RCF ground in Chembur. Around 30 types of crackers – from different manufacturers available in the local market – were tested and the noise levels were found to be within the permissible decibel (dB) limits, except for two of them.
Abdulali said these crackers were procured from the local market. Of the total 30 different types of crackers, one variety of green crackers exceeded the permissible decibel limit of 125dB. She added, “Markings of chemical content on the other 14 were incomplete. Some were marked as containing barium nitrate, a chemical which the Supreme Court has mentioned as being hazardous.”
Pointing this out, Abduali has written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray, urging that all the crackers which do not confirm to health safety standards, including all non-green crackers, should be confiscated before the sale and use not only in Mumbai but in entire Maharashtra.
Awaaz Foundation and the MPCB have been jointly testing firecracker noise levels since 2004. In the early years, 100% of crackers exceeded maximum permissible noise levels. In 2010, the maximum level was 130.6dB(A), well beyond the World Health Organization's safe exposure limit of 80dB and the legally permissible limit of 125dB (A).
In 2020 too, Abdulali had requested the state government to ban all kinds of firecrackers with immediate effect. She had then written to the chief minister claiming effects of these crackers will be even more dangerous amid the COVID-19 outbreak given the air pollution and negative effects they cause on respiratory health.
This year, too, Abdulali has requested the state government to consider the ‘serious hazards” to human health indicated by the test result of chemicals contained in firecrackers. "I have requested the state government that all crackers which do not confirm health-based safety standards including all non-green crackers should be confiscated before the sale and use in Mumbai and across Maharashtra," she added.