Did you know that fireworks are extremely harmful to the health of humans, animals and the planet? Consider saving money and avoiding the crowds by finding another way to celebrate this 4th of July.
Fireworks cause significant air pollution in a short amount of time, leaving metal particles, toxins, chemicals and smoke in the air for hours and even days. The fireworks used worldwide in all kinds of celebrations generate contaminants, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide gases, as well as aerosols of microparticles called particulate matter. There are some exemplary cities with carbon-neutral fireworks displays, such as Sydney, Australia. Unfortunately, these are the exception and not the rule.
Despite being relatively short-lived and infrequent, the toxic residue of fireworks extravaganzas ends up in lakes, rivers and bays. Lots of chemicals found in fireworks are persistent in the environment and slow to break down.
According to the EPA, exposure to fine particles, like those found in the smoke and haze left behind after a fireworks show, is linked to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma attacks and heart attacks. Those at the greatest risk for health problems are people with heart or lung disease, children and the elderly.
In a fireworks display, those particles that fall to the ground (chemicals and actual physical pieces of waste) often contain propellant chemicals and colorants that make their way into the soil and water. Many raw materials used in fireworks are mined from mountains, a destructive deforestation process that disregards wildlife.
Do we really need to proclaim our freedom and independence by trashing our environment and scaring animals and young children with the loud bombing noises of fireworks? Many people would argue that the United States today is less free as a nation than we had previously believed. Having become 'woke' on issues related to income inequality, environmental injustice, an oligarchy, institutional racism and more, can we also wake up and find a way to celebrate that does not involve toxic, colorful bombs bursting in air?
Choose a fun, eco-friendly alternative to fireworks this Independence Day. Some excellent options include: attending a concert, going for a picnic, taking a swim or hike, relaxing under the stars at the beach or at a forest campground -- or simply staying home and celebrating with good music, food and conversation.