It really does not matter where in the world you are because whether it’s New Year’s Eve in Gothenburg , Sweden, the Olympics in Beijing, China, the 4th of July in the good old USA or even just Monday Night Raw at WWE – events, festivities and celebrations are always greeted with a dazzling display of illuminations to decorate the night sky in an array of different colours.
More popularly known as fireworks, these astounding and colourful illuminations are a breathtaking sight to behold and are to many the ‘highlight’ of an event that they look forward to experiencing – sometimes they are even the main reason for attendance.
Watching the magnificent fireworks display is fun, exhilarating and often of no financial cost (directly anyway), but whether you realise it or not, there are hidden costs and ones not to be taken lightly at it. Those dancing lights in the night sky harm the environment through soil, water and air contamination and pose significant risks to the human health.
Even if you aren’t aware of its contents, it doesn’t take a genius to discover the discomfort you develop from being amongst the after smoke generated after the illumination goes out. This is because plain and simple; the smoke form fireworks are toxic and detrimental to both your health and that of the environment.
In order for you to learn understand fireworks, you need to know a bit about Pyrotechnics.
Pyrotechnics refers to the art, craft and science of fireworks. It is the science of materials capable of undergoing self-contained and self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions to produce heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound – which exactly describes fireworks. In short, you’re dealing with something that explodes and disseminates poisonous metal contents.
But in all honesty the particle-filled smoke is hardly your only or most detrimental concern. In order for fireworks to fill the sky with rainbow colours, they must contain certain metals such as
- Antimony to produce the colour white
- Barium to produce the colour green
- Aluminium /titanium/magnesium to produce a starmine or silver effect
- Strontium to produce red
- Copper to produce blue
- Strontium and copper to produce purple
- Calcium to produce orange
- Sodium to produce yellow
The problem is, most of the metals when heated turn poisonous. They harm the lungs, heart, stomach and other organs.
Furthermore fireworks also contain perchlorates -oxygen-rich molecules that allow the fuel in fireworks to burn. What’s so bad about it? Well Perchlorates is water soluble and those from fireworks will eventually end up in ground water. Perchlorate poses an adverse affect on the human health by interfering with iodide uptake into the thyroid gland.
So for the sake of our health and environment is giving up fireworks they only option we have? Not necessarily. Scientists have been working hard at it replace to perchlorate in fireworks with nitrogen-rich materials or nitrocellulose “that burn cleaner and produce less smoke” and consumes less colour making metals”. Only set-back? It’s really really expensive.