The Toxic Truth about Fireworks

1 January 2019

Coventry Evening Telegraph ran a story on 1st November 2011 on the environmental impacts of fireworks. They were asked Walter Milner from Coventry Green Party for comment.

There are fears that fireworks cause a toxic concoction of ingredients to rain down on land and waterways, leaving a carpet of chemicals after the big night. Is that true?

Fireworks do contain heavy metals and toxins which produce their glittering effects and show of colours. But the Fireworks industry claim these toxins are 'insignificant' and say fears about lung-clogging smoke are 'unfounded'. So do we really need to ditch our traditional annual firework displays?

Sparklers

Walter Milner of Coventry Green Party reckons its wise to balance the environmental impact of one night a year against every day issues, like transport and industrial pollution, and says we should not underestimate the value of cultural events which bring the community together to celebrate.

He says: "There are all sorts of issues with Bonfire Night, in terms of safety and the time and cost expended by the Fire Brigade and other Emergency Services - but on the other hand, it is an occasion when people can get together and enjoy themselves, which tends not to happen very often these days."

For example, how much material is burnt on Bonfire Night is insignificant compared with our petrol consumption. During autumn, many gardeners tend to burn garden waste, which could be composted. Compared with the burning of garden waste, I'm not sure Bonfire Night is a big problem.

It's just one day in a whole year!

So, should we worry less about the environmental impact of Bonfire Night, Valentine's Day or Christmas, and instead focus on everyday pollution and the bigger picture?

Walter says: "In some senses, everyday events are made up of lots of these special occasions, so it's a good idea to look at the impact of both. We don't want to be killjoys, but with the enormous amount of card and paper wasted on Christmas cards and wrapping paper, and disposable Christmas trees, it's worth asking whether this is a sensible thing."

Compare this to the pollution from cars and waste incinerators every single day of the year!






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