Probe shows use of toxic material in firecrackers
Part of: Prelims and GS II – Health and GS-III – Pollution
Context The Supreme Court said a preliminary enquiry by the CBI into the firecracker industry, including in Tamil Nadu, revealed rampant violation of its ban on use of toxic ingredients like barium and its salts.
- In an order in March 2020, the court ordered the CBI Joint Director in Chennai to conduct a “detailed” probe .
- The CBI was directed to examine the allegations of violation of the court ban in 2018.
Key findings of the probe
- A chemical analysis of the samples of finished and semi-finished firecrackers and raw materials taken from the manufacturers showed barium content.
- The court stated that loose quantities of barium were purchased from the market.
- Firecracker covers did not show the manufacture or expiry dates.
What is barium?
- Barium is a chemical element having atomic number 56.
- It is a soft, silvery alkaline earth metal.
- Because of its high chemical reactivity, barium is never found in nature as a free element.
- As a component of high-temperature superconductors and electroceramics
- Added to steel and cast iron to reduce the size of carbon grains
- Added to fireworks to impart a green color.
- As X-ray radiocontrast agents for imaging the human gastrointestinal tract.
- As rodenticides.
- Harmful effects:
- Soluble barium compounds are poisonous.
- In higher doses, they affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, etc.
- However, Barium is not carcinogenic and does not bioaccumulate.