In the days leading up to the 4th of July weekend, pyrotechnic tents or fireworks are stationed in most convenient store and gas station parking lots. Fireworks, barbecue, and patriotism have become the main staples of Independence Day weekend. While the night sky is brightened by enchanting florescent lights, the air pollution dramatically increases more than any other typical day. “When most people think of air pollution, they typically think of car exhaust pipes, construction pipes, and smoke stacks. People rarely think of fireworks as an air pollutant” says author Dian J. Seidel, senior scientist for climate measurements at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Think about it: thousands of fireworks exploding into the air simultaneously between the hours of 8-10pm in every household, town and city across the nation. According to a recent study in the journal Atmospheric Environment, Independence Day fireworks introduces 42 percent more pollutants into the air than found on a normal day. However fireworks do not only create air pollution, it also attributes to water and noise pollution. Fireworks fallout can contaminate water supplies and residue on the ground can be carried away by the rain and end up into lakes, rivers or oceans. Perchlorate is the active chemical found in fireworks that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is known to disrupt the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for normal growth and development.
While the increase in air pollution is truly a concern, public health officials need to be sustained for a long period of time before widespread health concerns to emerge. Nevertheless, the pollution caused by fireworks is still a concern to the planet’s health.
Would you consider forgoing fireworks next year and trying an alternative?