Awaaz Foundation, an NGO sent fire crackers handled by children during Diwali to a private laboratory for test. The test results indicated the presence of high levels of dangerous chemicals such as mercury, lead and sulphur.
The NGO has written to the chief minister and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to withdraw these crackers from the market.
‘Toxic chemicals found in firecrackers such as mercury, lead and sulphur are unsuitable for use within a crowded urban area as they are dangerous’
Sumaira Abdulali, convener of Awaaz Foundation, said, the crackers were sent to the lab last week, specifically to check the amount of carbon, sulphur, cadmium, lead and mercury contained.
There was no cadmium in any of the crackers tested. However, the presence of mercury was a major scare, specially or children handling them.
"The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed mercury and lead among the top 10 most dangerous and toxic chemicals. All four chemicals found are completely unsuitable for use within a crowded urban area, particularly in close proximity to a water body such as the sea, as sulphur reacts with water to produce sulphuric acid, while mercury bio-accumulates in fish," said Sumaira, adding that exposure to mercury can even result in death.
"In the interest of health of all citizens, we have requested environment minister Prakash Javadekar and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to ask for urgent withdrawal of firecrackers that contain mercury, cadmium or sulphur," she said, adding that the government authorities must ensure the firecrackers are banned.