Fireworks, believe it or not, can contain some serious toxins. When fireworks go off, they produce dust, smoke, carbon monoxide and heavy metals. These carcinogenic or hormone-disrupting substances can seep into soil and water, and are also easily inhaled. Specifically, green-colored fireworks have high amounts of Barium, which according to an explosive chemist at a pyrotechnic research company (DMD), “does something really nasty to your insides and gastrointestinal tract,” and can damage your heart.
For me, fireworks are the best part of the 4th of July, and I’m not sure I’m ready to call for giving them up. But I just can’t justify the after-effects of “the rocket’s red glare”: litter on the ground, contamination in water systems, and increased risks of asthma attacks. Right now, scientists are working to develop eco-friendly fireworks. And you can look for low-perchlorate (a hormone disruptor) fireworks, if you’re buying your own.
So what’s the resolution here? For now, the best thing to do is to start a conversation about this issue, and let people know that fireworks aren’t as harmless as they seem. And until the technology catches up, try some alternatives to using fireworks: host a block party, set up an outdoor movie night, or attend a laser show.
Are you ready to give up your fireworks? What do you think communities should do?
Featured image from Stuck In Customs, via Flickr