Dr. Avnish Jolly, Chandigarh :The Toxics Link study pointed out that there is threat of exposure even from the unburnt material. These particles are very small (1 to 5 microns in size) and contain metals along with carbon.
Effects of Chemicals Used in Crackers:
1. Copper: Poison to humans by ingestion. Inhalation of copper dust and fume causes irritation in the respiratory tract. Absorption of excess copper results in "Wilson’s disease" in which excess copper is deposited in the brain, skin, liver, pancreas and myocardium (middle muscular layer in the heart).
2. Cadmium: Can be poisonous to humans by inhalation, ingestion, intraperitonial, sub-cutaneous, intra-muscular and intravenous routes. Cadmium absorption can damage the kidneys and can cause anaemia. It is a potential human carcinogen. Cadmium causes increased blood pressure and also a disease called "Itai–Itai", which makes bones brittle resulting in multiple fractures.
3. Lead: Affects the central nervous system in humans. A poison if ingested, moderately irritating. It can cause cancer of lungs and kidneys and an experimental teratogen. When heated it can emit highly toxic fumes. In inorganic form, it is a general metabolic poison and an enzyme inhibitor. Young children can suffer mental retardation and semi-permanent brain damage by exposure to lead. Incase of lead levels in blood, the disturbing feature is that the natural levels are very close to the lowest safety limits.
4. Magnesium: Poison by ingestion, inhalation of magnesium dust and fumes can cause metal fume fever. Particles embedded in the skin can produce gaseous blebs and a gas gangrene. Dangerous fire hazard in the form of dust or flakes when exposed to flames. Manganese in the air has adverse effects on humans. Poisoning takes the form of progressive deterioration in the central nervous system.
5. Manganese: An experimental carcinogen and mutagen. Human toxicity caused by dust or fumes. The main symptoms of exposure are languor, sleepiness, weakness, emotional disturbances, spastic gait and paralysis.
6. Potassium: Dangerous fire hazard. If there is any confinement, an explosion can occur.
7. Sodium: In elemental form, it is highly reactive, particularly with moisture with which it reacts violently and therefore can attack living tissue. When heated in air, it emits toxic fumes of sodium oxide. Dangerous fire hazard when exposed to heat and moisture.
8. Zinc: Human skin irritant and effects pulmonary system. Pure zinc powder is non-toxic to humans by inhalation but difficulty arises from oxidation (burning), as it emits zinc fumes. Zinc is perhaps the least toxic of all heavy metals, in fact an essential element in animal and human nutrition, still they become toxic when absorbed in excess. Zinc stimulates the sensation of vomiting. An exposure to 150 mg of zinc can stimulate the process of vomiting in an adult male.
9. Nitrate: Large amounts taken by mouth can have serious and even fatal effects. The symptoms are dizziness, abdominal cramps, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, weakness, convulsions and collapse. Small repeated doses may lead to weakness, general depression, headache and mental impairment. Also there is some implication of increased cancer incidents among those exposed. Highly inflammable and on decomposition they emit highly toxic fumes.
10. Nitrite: Large amounts taken by mouth may produce nausea, vomiting, cyanosis, collapse and coma. Repeated small doses can cause a fall in blood pressure, rapid pulse, headaches and visual disturbances. When heated, emit highly toxic fumes of NOx.
11. Phosphorous in PO4: Poison to humans. Dangerous fire hazard when exposed to heat or chemical reaction. Poison by inhalation, ingestion, skin contact and subcutaneous routes. Ingestion affects the central nervous system. Toxic quantities have an acute effect on the liver and can cause severe eye damage.
12. Sulphur in SO4: Poison to humans by inhalation an eye, skin and mucous membrane irritant and corrosive, an experimental carcinogen. It chiefly affects the upper respiratory tract and the bronchi. It may cause edema of the lungs or glottis, and can produce respiratory paralysis. Source: Hazardous Chemicals Desk Reference, N.Irving Sax and Richard J.Lewis.
Decision is ours on this Deepawali, let us start campaign to celebrate this festival without lightning the crackers.