They fear a rise in pollution levels ahead of festive season because of the pandemic

The Citizens For Clean Air — a group of citizens, environmentalists, waste management experts, scientists, medical practitioners and several RWA representatives — has written to the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), seeking a ban on the sale and use of firecrackers for five months starting mid-October.

They fear a rise in pollution levels, which could aggravate the situation arising out of the pandemic.

In a letter to EPCA chairman Bhure Lal, the group said winter months recorded high levels of pollution and “these dangerous levels of pollution will be repeated this year too and the ongoing pandemic will only make the situation graver.”

‘Treat as emergency’

They demanded that EPCA treat this as an impending health emergency and intervene to ban and issue required advisories on the sale and use of firecrackers during the pandemic period from 15 October, 2020 to 15 March, 2021.

The letter pointed out that these five months were the time for festivals, marriages, sport and other public events and firecrackers were one of the main contributors to the pollution.

The letter, written by waste management activist Ruchika Sethi, also running — Why Waste Your Waste — campaign, also referred to media reports suggesting that a marginal increase in pollution levels could lead to an increase in COVID-19 deaths.

Study on COVID-19

“Also, a study published by Harvard University found that even a minor increase in PM 2.5 particles can lead to an increase in COVID-19 deaths,” read the letter.

“We have enough anecdotal evidence of children, adults with underlying respiratory diseases and senior citizens experiencing difficulty in breathing resulting in increased hospital visits. Many residents were restricted to their homes. There are also enough newspaper reports and studies done on the dangers of firecracker emissions,” said the missive, arguing that increased visits to hospitals, due to respiratory emergencies arising out of toxic particles in our breathing zone, during COVID-19 times, were fraught with its own dangers. Meanwhile, average PM 2.5 reading of 110 micrograms per cubic meter was recorded at the Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station at Vikas Sadan here on October 3. The PM 2.5 levels reached a maximum of 400 around 10 a.m. and dropped to a minimum of 61 around 4 p.m.



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