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India
01 Aug 2017

Environmental pollution: SC bans five toxic chemicals in fireworks

SC clamps down on pollution caused by firecrackers

The SC has banned five chemicals in fireworks- antimony, lithium, mercury, lead and arsenic -which increase air and noise pollution.

However, this means Diwali will be less bright and less noisy, since these substances are also responsible for bright lights and sounds by fireworks.

The order came after Central Pollution Control Board and Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation told the court about their effect.

In context

SC clamps down on pollution caused by firecrackers

These chemicals were responsible for different flames and sounds

Lithium gives fireworks that all-too-familiar red-colored flame, while antimony is responsible for glitter effects. Lead oxide, meanwhile, is used in firework manufacture to give them a crackling sound effect. If inhaled in high concentration, it could cause severe damage to the nervous system.

SC asks anti-pollution board for the ideal chemical composition

The order

SC asks anti-pollution board for the ideal chemical composition

The court has asked PESO to ensure compliance by manufacturers. It has also sought a report on the standard chemical composition.

CPCB is still examining effects of strontium. It says it will submit its findings by September 15.

The order came on a 2015 petition filed by three children who requested intervention in regulation of fireworks.

The next hearing is on August 23.

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Manufacturers stand up in defence

Manufacturers argued that fireworks aren't the only source of pollution. They said CPCB should specify composition instead of randomly picking up samples for testing. Abrupt action will also affect jobs of lakhs: 1.6L workers are employed in the 800 firecracker factories of Sivakasi (Tamil Nadu).

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