Are fireworks bad for the environment? © Getty Images

Are fireworks bad for the environment?

Though beautiful, fireworks pollute the atmosphere so may not be the most green choice of entertainment.

Asked by: Stuart Ching, Nottingham

Advertisement

Fireworks propel a cocktail of chemicals into the atmosphere, many of which can harm both people and the environment. The vivid colours in firework displays come from metallic compounds such as barium or aluminium that can have negative impacts on animal and human health. Additionally, to produce the oxygen needed for an explosion, many fireworks contain oxidisers known as perchlorates. These can dissolve in water, contaminating rivers, lakes and drinking water. Finally, fireworks release a fine cloud of smoke and particulate matter, affecting local air quality. Some newer, ‘cleaner’ fireworks replace perchlorates with safer alternatives, or use compressed air to reduce smoke created.


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.