How safe are your this Holi? Know your colors before you celebrate! - VIMS

How safe are your this Holi? Know your colors before you celebrate!

Safe Holi Celebration

Holi is the festival of colors celebrated with great fanfare in India and a few countries worldwide. The festival of colors is a great way to have a good time with family and friends in a colorful environment.

Extensive research has been carried out with a focus on studying the impact of colors used during Holi on health and the environment. Also, it has been found that the number of admissions citing respiratory issues and eye infections in hospitals nearly doubles during holi. The increase in the particulate matter in the environment caused by dispersing dry colors in the air during the festival celebrations is the primary cause for the rise in admissions for respiratory and ocular problems.

Another research article published in the National medical journal of India talks about chemical injuries caused to the eyes because of the colors used in the festival of Holi. In extreme cases, some people have lost their eyesight due to hazardous chemicals used in the colors.

Such research articles highlight the disregard for the adverse effects on health and the environment holi brings.

So does this mean we should stop playing Holi? Well, no. With this blog, we are just trying to raise awareness about the adverse impact of the chemical colors used during Holi and to offer a few suggestions which might make playing Holi safe for you.

Decoloring the true Nature of Holi Colours

The festival of Holi involves people playing with colors. Traditionally, the colors used during the Holi were derived from natural sources and prepared at home. With the fast-paced life, since it is difficult for people to make these colors at home, they buy colors from the local markets.

These hues at local markets are adulterated with hazardous chemicals like rhodamine, gentian violet, lead oxide, Mercury sulfate, mica dust, and so on. Adding these chemical compounds even in traces enhances the color to the otherwise natural colors, making them look more attractive and radiant, proving the saying “looks are deceptive” true.

Dangerous Side Effects of Synthetic or the Chemical Colours

Exposure to harmful chemicals can have a devastating impact on the skin and eyes and cause respiratory problems. Children and pregnant women are at much higher risk from these when compared to others.

Health Impact

Respiratory Problems

When throwing colors at each other during the Holi, the colors can enter the mouth and trigger asthma or bronchitis, which leads to wheezing and coughing. If these colors are mixed with hazardous chemicals like mercury sulfate, it can cause damage to internal organs like the kidney and liver. If a pregnant woman consumes these chemicals, even unknowingly, it has the ability to disrupt the unborn baby’s health.

Eye Problems

Compounds like mercury, mica, silica, and lead are toxic to the skin and eyes. They can cause corneal abrasion conjunctivitis, eye injuries, inflammation, and allergies. Most people wash their eyes with cold water and ignore the signs. This action, in an extreme case, can result in loss of eyesight.

Skin Infections

Immediately after Holi, many people come to the dermatologists or the general doctor complaining of rashes, itching, and burning sensations across their skin. These symptoms are due to the presence of heavy metals, chemicals, or pesticides in the holi colors.

Hair Problems

One of the most evident effects of Holi is your hair turning rough. The colors remove moisture from the hair, making it loses its shine and moisture. The adverse impact can be loss of hair, decoloring, or developing stickiness in hair.

Environmental impact

The synthetic colors are not biodegradable. When they mix up with the soil, they degenerate the soil’s quality and blend in with any plants that grow in them.

Also, when chemical compounds flow into the water bodies like streams, lakes, or rivers, they damage the ecosystem and can cause the death of aquatic animals.

The dry colors (or gulal) increase the particulate matter. According to a study, one can see an increase in the particulate matter in the environment by almost 600%, causing immense air pollution.

So, playing Holi with chemical or synthetic colors causes immense environmental damage by directly causing soil, water, and air pollution.

Tips and Advice for having a Safe Holi

We know that reading about the side effects of chemical colors can damper your Holi celebration plans. But that need not be the case. 

Celebrating Holi with friends and family can lift your spirits and breathe freshness into your life. Enjoying is part of having a healthy mindset and is excellent for mental health.

So here are a few tips from our desk curated for you to have a safe, happy, and carefree Holi.

  1. Try the traditional method of preparing the Holi colors at home using herbs, dried flower petals, turmeric, and natural henna. Though they might not be as attractive as the store-bought colors, you will know you are safe and can enjoy the festival without worries. 
  2. Alternatively, you can buy natural or organic colors only from certified organic shops. But beware, as we have already said – looks can be deceptive. 
  3. Oil your hair before setting out to play Holi. Also, do not forget to apply petroleum jelly or moisturizer over your skin since it can reduce the absorption of colors by the skin. 
  4. Apply good sunscreen and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. If you wear contact lenses, we suggest you ditch them this Holi.
  5. Wear full-sleeved and collared clothes. “Minimal exposure of skin to the colors” should be your mantra for having a safe yet fun-filled Holi.
  6. Removing colors: After playing Holi, do not use harsh chemicals like kerosene, nail polish remover, thinners, alcohol, or strong detergents to scrub. Wash the colors off with water and soap as much as you can. Do not forget to moisturize your skin afterward.
  7. If you develop rashes or burning sensations across your skin or irritation in your eyes, consult your doctor immediately. Do not self-medicate or ignore the symptoms.
  8. If you are expecting a child or have infants, toddlers, or children at home, we strongly suggest you use only home-prepared holi colors because prevention is a hundred times better than finding a cure for a condition.

In conclusion, playing Holi is not bad, but playing with chemical and synthetic colors is for your health and the environment. So this Holi, celebrate the festival with your loved ones by pledging to use only organic colors. If they are homemade, then it is even better. Have a happy and safe Holi.

Frequently Answered Questions

Is playing Holi safe for Baby?

We do not recommend playing holi for infants and toddlers. But if you have to, celebrate using homemade colors in moderation.

Is holi safe for a pregnant lady?

Yes, only if you are playing holi with homemade or organic colors. If you are unsure of the nature of the colors, it is best for the expecting mother and unborn to avoid playing Holi.

Is it true that the color used in holi can cause cancer?

Mercury Sulphate and Asbestos are carcinogenic. So playing with colors that have these components in them can cause cancer.

What precautions should I take before playing Holi?

  • Apply moisturizer and sunscreen before you go out.
  • Oil your hair since it avoids the color seeping into your hair.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and avoid wearing contact lenses.
  • Ensure the colors are organic.
  • Expose minimal skin to colors.

Disclaimer: The information included here is only for knowledge-sharing purposes, and the blog is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis, medical advice, or treatment by a healthcare professional. Every individual needs advice based on diagnosis and evidence, hence the reader should consult their doctor to determine the disease and any treatment must be taken under appropriate medical guidance.

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