A testing of samples of firecrackers being sold for Diwali revealed decline in noise levels as compared to previous years. However, there was a rise in air pollution levels from crackers.
The annual testing by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and anti-noise campaigner Awaaz Foundation, done on Tuesday , found the noise levels from serial crackers (1000 series) to be at a maximum of 116 – 118 dB (1,000 series at 116.2dB). The testing was done in an open ground in Rashtriya Chemical and Fertiliser (RCF) colony, Chembur, 12 days before Diwali.
While permissible limits for single crackers is 125 decibels (dB), a series of crackers (ladi) have limits between 90 decibel (dB) and 110dB, depending on the number of crackers put together. This year, noise levels from single crackers (thread bombs, atom bombs, double-knotted bombs) was highest for the ‘thriller bomb’ (atom bomb) at a maximum decibel of 99.9 dB, followed by the ‘looney bomb’ (thread bomb) at 96 dB, both produced by Charminar Fireworks. However, none of the crackers surpassed permissible limits.
A total of 26 firecrackers (including all types in the market) were brought to the ground and 24 firecrackers were tested. Only two series crackers were found to be above permissible noise limits as opposed to previous years. “Since the series crackers are a bunch of firecrackers put together, the decibel value is not accurate. Hence, we will test each cracker from the bunch and then concluding their value,” said SC Kollur, scientist, MPCB.
Last year, the noisiest series crackers were measured at 117 dB and single crackers were as loud as 113 dB (thunderbolt atom bomb).
Meanwhile, crackers such as the small-coloured series, Swastik and Valentine Day bomb all released high levels of pollutants upon testing .
“The crackers that record noise levels above permissible limits are noted along with the brand producing them and the details are forwarded to the Controller of Explosives, Nagpur, Home Department and police commissioners to take further action and ban them,” said VM Motghare, joint director, MPCB.
Motghare said a chemical analysis of all the firecrackers, especially the ones releasing smoke, will be done this week. “There are high chances of some crackers containing chemicals such as nickel, cadmium, antimony and zinc, which are harmful when inhaled. We will test them and the results will be sent to the Controller of Explosives by Monday,” he said.
Last year, while the MPCB did not release findings of the firecracker chemical analysis test, a similar test conducted by Awaaz Foundation found high levels of mercury, lead and sulphur in commonly available firecrackers.
“Owing to numerous noise pollution campaigns over the past decade, there has been a considerable drop in the manufacturing of noisy crackers. We have been conducting these tests over the years and seen levels going up to 140 dB. A matter of concern, however, is the amount of air pollution from new crackers manufactured this year and citizens should refrain from buying these,” said Sumaira Abdulali, convener, Awaaz Foundation.
Meanwhile, officials from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said they will for the first time record noise readings at 158 locations in 26 municipal corporations across Maharashtra and calculate their air quality levels.
“We will record ambient noise at all these locations on October 24 to adjudge the noise levels during a non-Diwali day and have background readings. On October 30, the same test will be conducted along with air quality analysis throughout the state. The readings will be compared to national ambient air quality standards and put up on our website,” said VM Motghare, joint director, MPCB.