For some unknown reasons, people worldwide have made up their minds that the best way to mark important events is through public fireworks. Essentially, fireworks are tiny pyrotechnic missiles that commonly explode in specific ways. They create a loud explosion and bursts, which have brightly-colored light. It seems fun, right. This might not be entirely the case since these colored explosions are simply the start of so many troubles. Have you taken your time to question the firework’s effects on the environment? The funny thing is that most people are well-aware that fireworks are harmful, having heard of someone who ended up in the hospital due to fireworks. However, it is a challenging task for most people to hold crucial celebrations like New Year eves with no fireworks. We did this review to inform our readers of the effects of fireworks on the environment.
What are Fireworks Made of?
Before diving into the firework’s effects on the environment, we should understand these fireworks’ composition. Among other things, fireworks have been packed with heavy metals, gunpowder, and other toxins. It is with the help of these that fireworks make the sparkling color shower. Different metal compounds typically create the unique colors that we see in the air during those celebrations. For example, strontium makes a red color, rubidium makes a purple color, and aluminum makes a white color. There is, however, one metal compound known as cadmium that acts as a universal colorant.
For this reason, it finds a wide range of applications in different fireworks. This compound is better known as a human carcinogen. It, therefore, means that some fireworks literally explode with some cancerous toxins. In short, fireworks are filled with chemicals, gunpowder, toxins, among other harmful ingredients. These will later explode and pour over the land, water, and our individual bodies.
How Does Fireworks Impact the Our Environment?
Are fireworks bad for the environment? Yes, they are. There are so many adverse fireworks effects on the environment, as we shall discuss. Fireworks lead to so much pollution, especially to the air, within a brief period. For instance, fireworks will leave behind harmful toxins, dangerous chemicals, metal particles, and smoke in the air, which happens for some days. Even though some of the toxins in fireworks will eventually decompose, some will never decompose completely. It, therefore, means that they will remain in the environment for so many years and pollute the air. The other form of pollution that is caused by fireworks is the water supply systems for the public. Fireworks leave the water filled with chemicals that basically flutter through the air. This means that other than risking drinking poisoned water, our wildlife will also consume these contaminants that might lead to their extinction.
Health Effects of Fireworks
For fireworks to blow up, they require something such as a combination of sulfur fuel and charcoal. In addition to that, it requires oxygen injection to speed up the explosion. Historically, potassium nitrate has been used in place of oxygen. These three compounds will work together to produce some sooty substance referred to as gunpowder. Once a spark has hit the gunpowder, potassium nitrate will feed oxygen to your fire. Consequently, it is going to burn the sulfur-charcoal fuel.
Studies have shown that suspended particulates like hydrocarbons increase in the air if they think about the harmful health impacts of fireworks. In most cases, children, pregnant women, and people with chronic asthma remain vulnerable to such exposures. Depending on the level of particulates in the air, you can experience effects such as eye, throat, and noise issues. It also leads to headaches as well as low mental acuity. Severity occurs in people who have nervous disorders, heart and respiratory issues. It aggravates problems among people who suffer from cold allergies and coughs. Other respiratory issues that are likely to be caused by fireworks include bronchial asthma, pneumonia, allergic bronchitis, sinusitis, and laryngitis.
The noise that is produced by the blasts of fireworks has harmful effects on health too. There are set standards on the noise levels in decibels that must not be exceeded during the day and night. Fireworks can be very noisy at levels that exceed 140 decibels. Any noise that is above 85dB has the potential of damaging the hearing system. With increased sound levels, you can experience restlessness, high blood pressure, and sleep disturbances. You will develop temporary or permanent hearing loss due to the loud bangs in the worst-case scenarios.
Pyrotechnic Pollution in the Environment
Owing to the droughts brought about by climate changes and global warming, safe and clean drinking water has become rare and precious. Even with this, most urban firework shows will always be held near or over a water body to eliminate fire chances. This, therefore, increases the abundance of firework pollutants in the water. Perchlorate is the inorganic chemical that is mainly used in fireworks as well as other explosives. One study found this compound’s concentrations in one municipal lake’s water surface near a fireworks show. Other studies showed the presence of perchlorate on the surface of the water and in the groundwater. This was especially the case in areas that were close to fireworks manufacturing sites and display sites.
Even though there is so much harm that perchlorate pollution can do, perchlorate pollution’s ecological and health impacts are yet to be thoroughly assessed. All the same, there is evidence that reveals that perchlorate contaminants are potential thyroid disruptors. They can also have very severe ecological impacts.
How are People Helping to Save the Environment?
With the many fireworks effects on the environment, what can we do to minimize these effects? There are endless efforts that people are taking towards helping to counteract the dangerous effects of fireworks. This is both on a large and small scale as well. For instance, most small shows have been using alternative methods of celebration and entertainment in place of fireworks. These alternate methods include hot air balloons, lasers, and other basic celebration traditions.
Essentially, these are great ways of helping to save the environment without restricting you from enjoying your evenings. From the large-scale approach, larger firework shows and companies have started changing their traditions. This is an effort that significantly helps in reducing pollution. For instance, Disney opted for compressed air when launching fireworks in 2004 at the Disney in California. This reduced the smoke amount that particulates into the air as well as that which perchlorates in water.
There Are Other Ways to Celebrate Important Events by Fireworks
To reduce fireworks’ effects on the environment, you should embrace other ways of marking your important events. Every purchase of fireworks stands for much more than the big bangs and the bright lights produced. It, therefore, means that fireworks are basically pollutants right from their creation. This extends to the obscure end where we get to pollute the air. Apart from that, fireworks are distractions from what really matters (the reason for the holiday).
You can adopt other alternate activities in marking your actual events and honor your holiday. This will significantly help in protecting people’s health, preventing environmental pollution, and generally eliminating havoc. For example, you can go birding or cycling during holidays. Other activities that you can involve yourself in are;
- Attending a parade
- Organizing a block party
- Go camping and hiking
- Helping others by volunteering at a homeless shelter
This clearly shows a wide range of alternatives for fireworks, and the limitation can only depend on your imagination. With such practices, you will serve as a role model to local civic leaders to feel encouraged to embrace other forms of celebration. Other than causing too much pollution, fireworks will also lead to hiked electricity bills. Apart from that, most fireworks are potential causes of fire, so most of them are held near water bodies, as we mentioned earlier. We are sure that you would not love to spend your time and money on things that create so much damages later.
The Bottom Line
It will significantly help if you feel comfortable with pool parties, bonfires, parades, and other less-harmful traditions. At the very least, consider opting out of the fireworks during your next celebration. We hiver understand that fireworks have a significant impact on most family celebrations. Removing this custom might therefore be unwelcome for most people. If you insist that fireworks are mandatory, consider limiting yourselves to a private show. In this case, you should opt for a few and large fireworks as opposed to hundreds of smaller fireworks. It is also wise to consider the green fireworks or those that have less color. This is because such fireworks emit few perchlorate contaminations to water and the air. Finally, make sure that you limit the fireworks to celebrations days alone instead of the week-long extravaganzas. Let us all remain vigilant on reducing fireworks’ effects on the environment.