The festival of Holi is one of the most important ones and is celebrated all through the country with utmost fervour. It marks the beginning of springtime and is a festival of colours. It begins a night prior with Holika Dahan wherein we collect sticks and logs and burn them in a pyre. Today this act has an adverse effect on our environment as we are already fighting deforestation. In addition to that it also releases carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and the particulate matter levels too get higher.
The next morning is the auspicious day of Holi, herein we celebrate this festival with synthetic colours, rain dance, water balloons and high decibel music. All of these contribute to pollution. Loudspeakers are an irritant to infants and senior citizens and cause noise pollution. The colours are chemically prepared and are highly toxic. They are not readily degradable and cannot be removed by conventional wastewater treatment methods. Hence, the chemical colours mixed with water can damage water bodies and soil as well. As it is India is facing water shortage at the moment, the rain dance only aggravates the matter by causing huge wastage of water. Even the balloons are capable of blocking the drainage system.
The synthetic colours contain lead oxide, copper sulphate, aluminium bromide, Prussian blue, mercury sulphide etc. And they end up causing irritation in the eye, allergy, rashes, swelling, skin irritation or even asthma.
Once the play with colours and water is done, people go to their home or their friend’s home with colour still on them. It is natural to switch on the AC once guests are home. This causes these toxic colours and substances to enter the HVAC system and be circulated for a while. A good idea would be to ask everyone to clean themselves, get the houses clean and only then switch on the AC. In case you have been thinking of replacing an air filter, replacing it just after Holi is a good idea.
We at EPSCO India would like to warn you about the ill-effects of the way Holi is played today. But if you make a few changes and continue to play Holi, we would be happier to join you all. Replace the toxic colours with organic (Eco-Friendly) colours and do away with the rain dance and play with flowers instead. Do away with the burning of logs. Carry on with the meeting people and greeting with organic colours as well as the delicacies. Just make a few changes and continue with the festivities.