Air pollution from fireworks during festival of lights (Deepawali) in Howrah, India - a case study

B. THAKUR, S. CHAKRABORTY, A. DEBSARKAR, S. CHAKRABARTY, R. C. SRIVASTAVA

Abstract

Fireworks display during festive celebrations can cause acute short term air pollution. Deepawali –the festival of light– is celebrated in India, every year during October or November with great fireworks display. Concentration of air pollutants such as SPM (suspended particulate matter), PM10, PM2.5, SO2 y NO2 were monitored for six consecutive days during Deepawali in Salkia, a densely populated residential area near Kolkata, India, for assessing the impacts of fireworks on ambient air quality. The pollutant concentrations as recorded on Deepawali were found to be several times higher (6.44 times for SPM, 7.16 times for PM10, 5.35 times for PM2.5, 1.73 times for SO2 and 1.27 times for NO2) compared to a typical winter day value. The results indicated the huge contribution of fireworks on the pollutant levels. The particulate concentrations on Deepawali exceeded its respective 24 hour residential standards by several times (11.6 times for SPM, 22.3 times for PM10, and 34.3 times for PM2.5). Concentrations of metals like Ba, Cu, Cd, Pb, Hg, Al in collected PMPM2.5 were found to be increased by many times on Deepawali (56.72, 79.00, 16.67, 14.86, 12.00 and 6.26 times, respectively) compared to the previous day. The probable health impact of this huge though short-lived deterioration of the ambient air quality is estimated through Monte Carlo's simulation in terms of increase in relative risk of mortality and morbidity in exposed individuals and found to be extremely high. It suggests some controls on fireworks during festive celebrations.

Keywords

Air pollution; firework; festival; health impact, relative risk.

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