by Seerat Kaur, Envecologic

Source: Airveda Monthly Data of R.K.Purram, New Delhi.

The night of Diwali in Delhi, India, and days following that have led the air quality to turn severe. By definition, AQI of 401 and above refers to ‘severe’ and 3001-400 falls in ‘very poor’ categories, respectively. This means that between very poor and sever levels, our chances of respiratory illness, including heart diseases have gone up manifold. Unsurprisingly, as you read this, the probability that you or someone you know must be experiencing respiratory discomfort already, is very high. But it’s not just bad air that results from the way we have been celebrating Diwali, other distortions include noise pollution, waste and child labor. Let’s take a look at four areas of serious impact and commit to do our bit to minimize these until the next Diwali.

Air Pollution

On Diwali, the air pollution skyrockets by an estimated 30%. This number is significant especially for metropolitan areas like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, etc, wherein there is no tree cover to absorb all the carbon dioxide emitted in the air.

Celebrated late October, the winter mist doesn’t allow the chemicals to escape in the atmosphere thus increasing the effects of air pollution and making it more difficult to breathe. It would take around 5,000 trees their entire lifetime to compensate for the 60,000 tons of carbon emissions produced on this one day alone.

Noise Pollution

The noise pollution levels cannot be overlooked. Crackers create 140 decibels of noise. For the average human any noise above 85 decibels can lead to permanent hearing damage. For animals – who’s hearing is 4 times as sharp as the humans. The bursting of crackers accompanied by the loud noises are a nighmare. The dogs, cats, birds who have more sensitive hearing than humans are seen cowering with their tails between their legs willing for this mayhem to end. They sense danger. Their plight is increased ten fold as the ordeal moves from Dusshera to Diwali. These few days are worse for these animals as the air around them chokes making it harder to breathe and the noise accompanying the same scares them tremendously.

Garbage Pollution

The auspicious festival starts with everyone cleaning their homes and ends with polluting the environment and the city. The irony isn’t lost on me.

The burnt off crackers and disposed paper bits add to the pollution levels of the city. This problem is almost as extensive as the air pollution caused as it takes days to rid the city of both. Approximately 4,000 additional metric tonnes of trash is generated in cities like Delhi and almost double of that in Mumbai and other metropolitans.

Child Labour

An estimated 80 million children are employed in the firework industry. A majority of this number belongs to India. These children are exposed to chemicals and gun powder working in these factories. 90% of these children are known to suffer from lung diseases, Tuberculosis and Asthma. To invest in these crackers every year is to encourage the industry to employ more children. 

Diwali is an auspicious day. One, that should not be subjected to air pollution, noise pollution, increase of garbage or encourage child labor. While we take care of these, we also contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals including goal #3 (Goodhealth & Well-being), goal #8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), goal #11 (Sustainable Cities & Communities) and goal #12 (Responsible Consumption & Production)