Rang barse, there is a shower of colours ---- so goes the opening lines of a popular Hindi song. Who doesn’t like getting dabbed or drenched in colours, right?
What better way to welcome balmy spring after the harsh winter season than playing Holi, the festival of colours.
But beware, the innocent riot of colours has taken an ominous turn, with the substance all mixed with deadly chemicals causing rashes, burns and, in extreme cases, even death due to the emission of fumes from the poison-laced pastes and powders.
They may look all shiny and shimmering, but they are not as harmless as they appear.
Festivities are marred by mandatory visits to doctors who see a spate of patients rushing into their clinics with all kinds of problems ranging from mild to extreme.
Holi is no longer the innocent sport played with natural dyes and colours. Harmful chemicals are passed off as colours, as they are cheap and gaudy.
What Do Synthetic Colours Contain?
These synthetic colours contain toxic substances that include pieces of glass, asbestos, silica, etc, which can cause skin irritation, itching, rashes, burns, allergies, eye problems, loss of hair, nausea and respiratory problems.
Unscrupulous traders, looking to make a fast buck, sell these colours in the form of powders, pastes and water colours to unsuspecting consumers who end up with a host of problems.
Lead, cadmium, nickel, chromium, zinc and copper are mixed with dry powders and the carcinogens present in these chemicals have a long-term effect on the human body.
Lead oxide gives the shining black colour while copper sulphate gives the rich green colour and aluminium bromide gives the silver colour.
Prussian blue and mercury sulphate give deep red and may look kitschy, but the harm done to health is irreparable.
What Are The Effects Of Synthetic Colours?
Water-based colours contain alkalines that are mixed with engine oil. These toxins can cause serious long-term damage, leading to renal failure, skin cancer, loss of eyesight and bronchial asthma.
These are some of the direct ways in which Holi colours affect our health. But, consider the impact on our environment. These colours eventually make their way to the soil and underground water contaminating it forever.
The adulterated colour substances have a cascading effect on the environment, as they first affect the humans, then with the colours finding their way into the sewers and then water bodies, endanger the already-delicate water system with the fish and other organisms there threatened.
They also destroy the plants and animals that feed on these plants.
Are Non-chemical Dyes A Safe Option?
Cashing in on the popular trend, some traders are peddling non-chemical dyes, which too are not safe. It is best to use herbal powders bought from certified dealers that are eco-friendly and will ensure no harm to the health.
What Are Organic Colours?
These organic colours are made with herbs, turmeric, plant and vegetable dyes, fruit extracts and are totally safe to be used. They are also bio-degradable and do not cause any harm to the environment.
So, check that the products you buy are skin-friendly with no talc or corn or starch mixed in them with no chemicals or artificial colours. Also, make sure they are absolutely eco-friendly and most importantly, do not come with plastic packaging.
So, until there are stringent laws to curb the use of industrial colours, it is our responsibility to observe the required caution, stay safe and enjoy the festival of colours by playing responsibly without harming anyone.