Saturday, January 1, 2011

Are Fireworks Bad For The Environment? Maybe...

With all of the wonderful fireworks displays that we saw this year across the world to celebrate the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, the following question came to mind: Are fireworks bad for the environment?

I found the following great article on the subject at the Mother Nature Network:

Are fireworks bad for the environment?
Fireworks can unleash a shower of toxins into soil and water, and scientists are only beginning to figure out what that means for human health.

The rockets' red glare during a fireworks show can fill onlookers with patriotism and awe. Unfortunately, it can also fill them with particulates and aluminum.

Fireworks get their flamboyance from a variety of chemicals, many of which are toxic to humans. From the gunpowder that fuels their flight to the metallic compounds that color their explosions, fireworks often contain carcinogenic or hormone-disrupting substances that can seep into soil and water, not to mention the lung-clogging smoke they release and plastic debris they scatter.

Is an occasional peppering of perchlorates really a big deal compared with all the industrial pollution U.S. waterways have been dealt over the years?

Maybe not, but it's still not entirely clear how fireworks affect environmental or human health. While they haven't been linked to any widespread outbreaks of disease, it's not always easy to pin down why someone developed hypothyroidism, anemia or cancer.

What we do know is that, although they're fleeting and infrequent, fireworks shows spray out a toxic concoction that rains down quietly into lakes, rivers and bays throughout the country. Many of the chemicals in fireworks are also persistent in the environment, meaning they stubbornly sit there instead of breaking down. That's how mercury from coal emissions winds up in fish, and it's how DDT thinned bald eagles' eggshells in the '70s. There's scant evidence that fireworks are having similar effects, but the possibility has been enough to raise concern in many communities.

For more information on the subject, I suggest visiting the article link provided above. It has a lot of great information on the environmental and health related impacts of fireworks.


(Image: by foxypar4 on flickr

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