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Probe shows use of toxic material in firecrackers

  • IASbaba
  • September 30, 2021
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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.

Background 

  • 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.
  • Applications: 
    • 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. 

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