The environmental harm in holiday fireworks


Photo by Hans, from Pixabay

Tyler Chalfant | January 2nd, 2020

Around the world, 2020 began with countless tiny metallic particles exploding into the air and polluting the atmosphere and water sources. Fireworks are beautiful and exciting, but have been found to have a negative impact on human health, especially when released in large quantities. 

Perchlorate, a chlorine and oxygen compound used in fireworks, has been linked to thyroid problems. The substance has been found seeping into groundwater at unusually high concentrations following fireworks displays, so many states have passed regulations or guidelines in an attempt to limit its presence in drinking water. This problem, as well as the air pollution caused by metallic coloring agents, has led to the development of greener alternatives, including fireworks that are chlorine-free. 

In countries like Iceland and Germany, where personal displays on New Year’s are popular traditions, officials have warned people to use fireworks in moderation, and placed restrictions on their use. This year, India outright banned polluting fireworks for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. In past years, fireworks have worsened the already hazardous air quality in many parts of the country, and have been linked to a 30% to 40% increase in reported breathing problems. 

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