In the United States, today is a holiday called the Fourth of July or Independence Day. On July 4th, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was finished being written and edited. This was seen as the true start to the United States becoming an independent (hence the name) nation free from Britain. The holiday is celebrated in plenty of different ways including huge parades, picnics, community events and lastly the most significant tradition which is the topic of this blog post; fireworks.
What goes up, must come down. This is a common saying but few people realize it’s actually applicable to everything. This is especially true for fireworks. Fireworks are made up of endless chemicals which are destructive to human health, animal health, and the environment; yet are a staple in holidays all around the world. The chemicals in fireworks don’t just vanish into thin air, they rain back down onto everything below it.
Here’s a list of three (but not nearly all) of the most dangerous chemicals found in fireworks:
- Aluminum: Aluminum can stay airborne for days and cannot be destroyed in nature, only dissolved (most commonly into lakes, rivers, and soil – and back up into plants). Some of the many health problems aluminum can cause are Alzheimer’s disease (shown to be linked in case studies), cancer, lung problems, and birth defects. When released into nature aluminum particles are toxic. It’s linked to health problems and even death in all kinds of animals, specifically aquatic life, as well as damage to root systems of plants.
- Lead: Everyone has heard of lead poisoning. What used to be in paint but is now banned because of its toxicity is still a common ingredient in fireworks. Lead attacks all areas of the body with long term (potentially deadly) effects and is much more harmful to children than adults. Much like the human nervous system, lead also affects all areas of nature and is damaging to the entire ecosystem starting in the soil.
- Nitrogen Dioxide: Nitrogen Dioxide is a pollutant, one of the most common pollutants which is mostly produced by vehicles; it is a primary cause of creating ground-level ozone and can produce acid rain. Pollutants of all kinds are damaging to the environment (obviously) and nitrogen dioxide specifically damages plants and the air we breathe. It is a cause of respiratory issues from inflammation such as infection, decreased overall function and sensitivity to allergens.
Watching fireworks at home does solve the immediate threat at hand, but it doesn’t stop the environmental impact or save anyone else from exposure. Fireworks are pretty but they should not be supported in any form. Now, it’s true that the dosage obtained from these toxic chemicals in fireworks is relatively small. However, any amount adds up. There are at least two holidays in the United States which have fireworks every single year, sometimes for multiple days at a time. It’s common practice in some theme parks to have firework shows every single night, and don’t forget to count the other miscellaneous events that have fireworks like how common it is to take fireworks on camping trips. Imagine going to multiple events with fireworks every single year because it is “tradition” – imagine how much exposure this equates to in a lifetime or even just a childhood, and how many of these chemicals are just sitting on the city streets after the event is over. Fireworks pose countless health concerns, they scare wildlife, pollute the planet, lead to more dogs running away than any other day of the year, and keep people up at night (me included). It’s not worth the 5-minute show and it doesn’t make sense to harm the planet and its inhabitants in celebration.
Categories: Green Living