Last week, like every Fourth of July before, the USA celebrated our “birthday” with color-filled bursts of black powder. Fireworks are one of my favorite parts of holiday celebrations like those on the Fourth and New Years Eve. But unfortunately, those glorious pyrotechnic light shows increase air pollution.
It’s pretty obvious though, isn’t it? The dust and particles in the smoke may seem to dissipate within a few hours after the fantastic lights have gone out, but remnants of the various heavy metal compounds like sulfur-coal remain. The colors that we all love come from- anyone, anyone?- that’s right, you guessed it – noxious chemicals. Green comes from barium (your Chem 101 class didn’t fail you, barium IS incredibly radioactive AND poisonous); Blue comes from copper compounds (which has been linked to cancer); and all of those awe-inspiring explosions that are in different shapes? Sorry to break it to y’all, but those involve rubidium, strontium, lithium lead and potassium nitrate… they all cause a multitude of health issues.
The next issue is what happens when these chemical compounds are washed into the water supply and/or become acid rain. Think about this- Atlanta (inside the perimeter) had over 20 different fireworks displays. Then think about the number of other cities and small towns that had at least one firework show in the days leading up to, during the Fourth, and even afterwards. Now consider the number of people who bought fireworks to set off on their own (yes, even the little dinky ones from Target count). One last thing I’d like to put into your environmentally conscious minds- July 4th is just ONE of our country’s celebrations. Countless other countries use fireworks that are even less regulated than those here in the US. And what about theme parks like Disney who have firework displays EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT?
I’m not trying to ruin your enjoyment of fireworks, just trying to help the world be a little more conscious of the results that come from everyone’s actions!