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Nationwide Ban on Barium in Firecrackers


The Supreme Court has emphasized that its prohibition on the use of barium and other banned chemicals in firecrackers extends across the entire country, dispelling any ambiguity and confirming it is not limited to the National Capital Region. This clarification came during the court’s consideration of an application requesting directions for the Rajasthan government to adhere to the apex court’s directives.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Supreme Court’s Directives on Firecrackers: Key Points
  2. What are Green Crackers?
  3. Health Impact

Supreme Court’s Directives on Firecrackers: Key Points

Previous Orders (October 2018):
  • Banned production and sale of all crackers except ‘green crackers’ and those with reduced emissions.
  • Prohibited ‘joined crackers’ (long rows of crackers joined together).
  • Restricted noise levels within permissible limits.
  • Banned the use of barium salts in fireworks.
National Green Tribunal’s Decision (2020):
  • Banned sale and use of all firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • Allowed green crackers only in areas with moderate or poor air quality.
Recent Supreme Court Decision (September 2023):
  • Rejected plea by firecracker manufacturers’ association to permit joined crackers.
  • Disallowed the addition of barium with improved additives in green crackers.
Composition of Firecrackers:
  • Four primary ingredients: oxidizer, fuel, coloring agents, and binder.
  • Oxidizer ignites the cracker, fuel sustains the fire, coloring agents provide colors and sparkles, and binder holds the mixture together.
  • Barium, a harmful coloring agent, was banned due to its adverse effects on human health, causing respiratory issues, skin allergies, breathing difficulties, and cancer.
  • Other compounds like aluminum, magnesium, titanium, carbon, iron, sodium, copper, and strontium carbonates are used for different colors in fireworks.

What are Green Crackers?

  • Green crackers do not contain harmful chemicals and reduce air pollution.
  • They are eco-friendly, i.e., green crackers are less harmful as compared to conventional firecrackers and reduces air pollution.
  • In green crackers, the commonly used polluting chemicals like aluminium, barium, potassium nitrate and carbon have either been removed or sharply reduced to slow down the emissions by 15 to 30%.
About the development of Green Crackers
  • These green crackers have been developed by the National Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a CSIR lab.
  • At the first phase of producing green crackers focus was on reducing pollutants and then further strategies will cover to remove pollutants from the compositions.
  • CSIR-NEERI have developed potential sound-emitting functional prototypes that do not emit sulphur dioxide.
  • The crackers have been named as Safe Water Releaser (SWAS), Safe Thermite Cracker (STAR) and Safe Minimal Aluminium (SAFAL).
  • The particulate matter will be reduced by 30-35 per cent in SWAS and 35 to 40 per cent in SAFAL and STAR.
  • According to the researchers, these crackers have the unique property of releasing water vapour, air as a dust suppressant and diluents for gaseous emissions that match with the performance in sound with traditional conventional crackers.
  • Basically, green crackers don’t contain barium substance which is used in the firecrackers to add green colour, as barium can cause burns, poisoning and deaths.
  • Green crackers will reduce at least 30 percent emissions using particulate matter Potassium Nitrate as an oxidant.

Health Impact:

  • Lead in crackers impact the nervous system while copper triggers respiratory tract irritation, sodium causes skin issues and magnesium leads to mental fume fever.
  • Cadmium not just causes anemia but also damages the kidney while nitrate is the most harmful that causes mental impairment.
  • The presence of nitrite causes irritation in mucous membrane, eyes and skin.
  • The most vulnerable population though are infants, children, pregnant women, elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.

-Source: Indian Express

December 2023