Harmful effects of firecrackers on human health

The festival of lights of Diwali celebrated in the country comes with it the glittering glows of lamps, boxes of sweets, celebration of love and relationship mixed with a fair deal of loud noise of firecrackers used


The word noise itself denotes an unpleasant sound. As we closely approach the celebration, it is the right time to have a look of the other side of the story, the health hazards of firecracker which has been a part and parcel of our celebration for ages.

Firecrackers, to begin with most commonly used ones are the cheap and glittery Chinese products which promise a noise production of nearly 120 to 160 decibels (dB). According to scientific literature, exposure to such a loud sound irrespective of time period of exposure can lead to hearing disabilities .These can cause sensorineural hearing loss due to damage to cochlea, the sensory organ of hearing, tinnitus which can be temporary or permanent.

Our ears never ‘get used’ to these loud sounds; it ‘gets deaf.’

Noise is a non-biologic stressor which causes a fight and flight response affecting other systems in body causing effects like cardiovascular diseases, sleep disturbance, decreased productivity, increasing latent mental disorder.

Hearing loss caused by exposure to noise commonly recreational and occupational results in devastating disability that is virtually 100 per cent preventable. The most vulnerable population affected by this noise induced trauma in the younger population as the threshold of loudness is lower in them.

Firecrackers also add its part in air pollution, the fogginess evident in air around during the festival is a flag sign of air pollution contributed by it. These can be a trigger to precipitating asthma attack in those who are prone to it.

The increase in causalities of burns injuries rise tremendously during the days of festival which is the story known to entire medical fraternity in this country ,making Diwali for us “ the festival causing burns”. Most of these accidental burns involve hands and face and are usually encountered in young population.

Though a lot have been told and discussed about use of firecracker; acknowledging the problem and relevant solution, we reacted slowly, reluctantly and inadequately to address it so far. Let this Diwali spread its light and colour in everyone’s life, rather than causing a moment of sparkle at the expense of health of others.

‘Light the lamp not a cracker.’

The author is a Professor and Head of ENT department at Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, Mumbai