Happy Independence Day! We hope your day is filled with barbecues, parades, and precious time with your friends and family. At the end of all your festivities, there’s a good chance that beautiful fireworks will explode over your heads. At J-Tech, we love taking measures to protect and conserve our ecosystem 365 days a year. This week we’re discussing how those fireworks above your head might just be the world’s prettiest pollution.
WHAT ARE FIREWORKS MADE OF?
One of the reasons why fireworks are bad for the environment is what they’re made of. Fireworks are packed with gunpowder, heavy metals, and other toxins to produce their sparkling shower of color. Various metal compounds create the specific colors we see up in the air, such as strontium (red), aluminum (white), copper (blue), barium (green), and rubidium (purple). Another metal compound, cadmium, is used as a universal colorant that works for a wide range of fireworks. Cadmium is a known human carcinogen, which means that some of the fireworks are quite literally exploding with cancer causing toxins. Essentially, fireworks are full of chemicals, toxins, gunpowder, and other harmful ingredients that then explode and shower over our land, water, and our bodies as we watch.
DO FIREWORKS CAUSE POLLUTION?
Fireworks cause extensive air pollution in a short amount of time, leaving metal particles, dangerous toxins, harmful chemicals, and smoke in the air for days. When ignited, these materials produce fine particles and gasses that can contribute to air pollution. Some of the toxins in fireworks never are able to fully decompose and can stay in the environment for decades, continuously poisoning the air around them.
Fireworks can also pollute public water supply systems, leaving the water full of the same harmful chemicals that are fluttering through the air. When rivers, lakes, and oceans absorb a large amount of heavy metals and toxins from fireworks, the pollution can harm aquatic life and disrupt the balance of ecosystems. Not only does this mean that you might be drinking those chemicals, but our wildlife will also consume the contaminants.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF FIREWORKS ON WILDLIFE?
Another reason that fireworks are not good for the environment is because of their effect on local wildlife. For the most part, fireworks and wildlife don’t mix. Most animals will be caught off guard by the bright lights and loud noises that come from a firework display. These effects can disorient animals, stress them out, and even cause them to flee their habitats. Moreover, the debris from the fireworks can be ingested by animals or even start fires in dry or forested areas.
HOW ARE PEOPLE HELPING?
There are many efforts people are taking to help counteract the harmful effects of fireworks on a large and small scale. For example, many small shows are using other methods of entertainment and celebration other than fireworks. Methods such as lasers, hot air balloons, or other simple celebration traditions are great ways to help save the environment while still enjoying the evening.
On a larger scale, companies and larger firework shows are making changes to their traditions in an effort to reduce pollution. For example, Disney began using compressed air to launch fireworks in 2004 at Disneyland in California, reducing the amount of smoke particulates in the air and perchlorates in the water.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you’d be just as content with a bonfire, parade, pool party, or other less-toxic tradition, consider opting out of fireworks this year. However, we understand fireworks are an important part of many family’s celebrations, so we understand removing that tradition from the day might be a nonnegotiable option. If fireworks are a must, consider limiting yourself on your private show. Choose a few large fireworks rather than a hundred smaller ones. Consider opting for green fireworks or fireworks with less color so they emit less perchlorate contamination in the water and air. After a fireworks display, also make sure to clean up all of the debris and dispose of it properly. This reduces the amount of litter and the chances of it being ingested by wildlife. Lastly, try to limit your fireworks displays to the 4th instead of opting for a week-long extravaganza.
From all of us here at J-Tech Solar, we hope you have a safe, fun, and bright Independence Day. If fireworks are a must in your celebration but you want to make other eco-friendly decisions for our great American soil, get in touch with us today to chat more about how solar power might be right for you.