The Fourth of July is a great occasion to enjoy the company of family and good friends, eat great food, and celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence with visually stunning fireworks displays. While fun to watch, fireworks can be hazardous to the environment around them. The explosions and colorful light displays are often created using various heavy metals, sulfur-coal compounds, and other noxious chemicals. For example, Barium is frequently used to create green colors in fireworks and Copper compounds are used to create blue colors—even though these compounds have been linked to cancer. In addition to the potential harmful effects of these chemicals, fireworks can also leave behind hazardous smoke and physical debris.
The good news is that many organizations that use pyrotechnics frequently, such as Disney and the U.S. military are developing more eco-friendly options to traditional pyrotechnics. For example, Disney engineers replaced explosive-based launchers with quieter and more environmentally-sound compressed air launchers. The pioneering company also incorporated to some exceptionally low-smoke and perchlorate-free technologies into their daily fireworks displays worldwide. The U.S. military has also tasked explosive experts with finding ways to ensure that flares and airborne weapons leave a smaller carbon footprint on the environment. In addition, stricter regulations on the chemicals used in fireworks are being developed.
Unfortunately, these eco-friendly alternatives to traditional fireworks are not available to the public because the cost to create them is still relatively high. However, manufacturers and explosives experts are working on that, too. So, until these “green” fireworks are readily available to consumers, consider viewing your local community’s fireworks display rather than launching them in your own backyard. This gives you a relaxing opportunity to see some great professionally designed fireworks displays and mingle with your fellow Americans. Plus, you can save yourself and your family from disappointment when your “spectacular” Roman candle display turns out to be a dud.
Have a safe and happy Fourth!