Climate Action

Eco-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Fourth of July Fireworks

For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when hearing July 4th is fireworks. We all love the bright, colorful fire that explodes in the sky. But do we know what the fireworks are doing to our bodies and the environment? How could we reduce the impacts? A recent NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) study showed that the fine particulate matters reach their highest level on the evening of July 4th, American Independence Day. On July 4th, the particulate pollution is 42% greater than the former and following days. This is because most of the fireworks used for public displays contain chemicals called Potassium perchlorate and cerium nitrate which are terrible for the environment and causes health problems to the heart, lungs and the respiratory systems. To reduce the hazardous impacts of fireworks, scientists are trying to invent more eco-friendly fireworks by looking for alternatives to the two chemicals mentioned above. It was found that possible chemicals in place of potassium perchlorate and barium nitrate could be strontium nitrate, potassium periodate or sodium periodate which are less poisonous. In addition, The Walt Disney Company has patented a new technology few years ago to replace gunpowder by using compressed air to lift fireworks. These are both attempts to decrease firework pollutions. Now, what can we do to enjoy the firework in a more eco-friendly way? Firstly, when doing individual fireworks do it in a single place in your yard to make it easier to clean up the remains. The more you move around, the more places you have to clean up. It is crucial to clean up the fireworks right after, when the firework finishes. This is because the longer you leave the remains, the more chemical dust and ashes that are harmful will blow away everywhere. If that should like a chore, it is recommended that you watch your local firework show rather doing it yourself. Reductions in individuals creating their own firework would lead to a reduction in pollution. Since fireworks are considered as explosives, they cannot be recycled. However, we should know the proper way to dispose them. The National Council on Fireworks Safety says that we should “Dispose of spent fireworks by wetting them down and place in a metal trash can away from any building or combustible materials until the next day.” It is very important that the fire is completely distinguished before disposing them. When you are not sure of what to do with the firework call your local city council or city hall to find out where they prefer fireworks to be disposed or recycled. Some police and fire departments accept fireworks to make sure that they are properly disposed. Remember these facts and let’s celebrate an eco-friendly Fourth of July! Seoyoung Kim, Intern