Hey there! It’s summer. And it is fireworks season in the US. Fireworks have been around for hundreds of years and are enjoyed by many. However, fireworks can also also spook pets, wild animals and can injure people. And, as it turns out, fireworks have an impact on the environment and human health. But what is the link between fireworks and the environment? That is what we will discuss in this post.
This post was sort of a spur-of-the-moment post in light of all the recent fireworks. I hope you enjoy.
What are fireworks?
Fireworks are small explosive devices used for entertainment displays. Fireworks have a small tube (called an aerial shell) that contains explosive chemicals that create lights, colors, and sounds. They are used around the world to create light displays for entertainment purposes, most often for holidays or at theme parks.
Americans purchase more than 258 million pounds of fireworks every year from the American Pyrotechnics Association.
Fireworks and air pollutants:
Fireworks are known to be a source of air pollution. A large body of research has found that fireworks and firecrackers can increase outdoor ambient particulate matter levels. Particulate Matter (PM) is considered a major air pollutant, and can cause harm to the lungs and cardiovascular health (to read more about PM, see this piece). PM10, a larger particular matter, has been found to be significantly increased by firework displays.
Furthermore, fireworks can add metals to the atmosphere, including aluminum, antimony, barium, copper, lead, magnesium, potassium, strontium and titanium. Fireworks have also been found to increase the amounts of trace metals, ions, elemental and organic carbon emitted into the air.
For example, research has found that fireworks increase levels of strontium, magnesium, barium, potassium, and copper. Arsenic is also added to some fireworks, and exposure to this harmful heavy metal and known carcinogen also carries risk.
Research also shows that the pollutants remain suspended in the air for a period of time, indicating that fireworks and firecrackers can have lasting impacts on air quality.
It is also possible that these particles end up in soil. Fireworks impact water quality, too. Research has identified fireworks as a source of perchlorate in water. Perchlorate blocks iodide uptake into the thyroid and can cause decreases in thyroid hormones related to metabolism and neurodevelopment, among other functions. In addition to the explosion of fireworks, firework manufacturing sites have also been identified as a source of perchlorate contamination.
Additional research has found that air concentrations of hexachlorobenzene (an animal carcinogen) increase by a factor of 10 during fireworks, and remain elevated the day afterwards.…