Will Fireworks Fit in our Future?

Andreas Klippe no responses December 17, 2019

Several countries like Germany, the Philippines, and India are discussing the limiting of public sale, use, and prohibition of fireworks citing environmental and safety concerns. Fireworks use is sure to be at an all time high at the end of the decade, so the issues are up for discussion again by people all around the world. What do we need to know about it?

Made in China

Around 1100 years ago, ancient Chinese chemists discovered a powder that was extremely combustible. When activated, it radiated intense heat and light. The chemists purified and refined the substance, studying how it worked along the way. Merchants traded and spread it across the land, introducing the ancient world to what we now know as gunpowder.

Thinking about it now, the chemical reaction and the explosions it created might as well have been magic to them. It was believed, after all, that fireworks ward off evil spirits and bad luck through loud explosions and bright lights. But persistent ancient scientists found that this powder can be controlled and harnessed. They discovered that by combining it with other substances, the light changed colors.

city fireworks

This is how fireworks were invented and how they are still made. Marker of celebrations and show of splendour – whether you’re opening or closing a momentous event, fireworks are the way to go. But how much do fireworks affect the environment? We do see smoke when they are used, but is it enough for us to be alarmed?


Fireworks are prominent all over the world. They are featured in national and international events, celebrations big or small. Pyrotechnicians even have their own competitions.

smoke fireworks
After the dazzling fireworks in the sky, serious problems start on the ground with pyrotechnic leftovers and debris

Thankfully, fireworks have no detectable long term effects on the climate. Fireworks use is not enough to equal emissions from vehicles. They still cause intense air pollution in a short bursts during their use. They leave in their wake metal particles small enough to be breathed in, dangerous fumes, and chemicals that are left suspended in the air. These cause breathing and skin problems like dermatitis.

More serious problems start when debris returns to the ground. Remnants of fireworks contain traces of toxic heavy metals and other chemicals and can leech off to animal and human food and water sources.

Save the environment and avoid injuries

Extensive air pollution and severe accidents are the main motivators for governments to regulate or outright ban fireworks like India during their Festival of Lights. Ireland and Chile are two countries which restrict commercial sale of fireworks, making them available only for professionals. Continued cases of accidents cause a lot of discussion over legal matters of fireworks.

The best course of action right now is to keep fireworks and their debris away from children, animals, and water sources. Sweeping up after fireworks displays and disposing of the waste properly is sure to help greatly.

Happy People, Happy Pets

Before buying your own fireworks, check and see if your community has a public viewing. If there is none, convince your local representative to start one. Public fireworks displays bring professionals into the equation which decrease the risk of injuries and accidents — something that is always the goal of the local government units. Your wallet might thank you for it as well.

family watching fireworks
Start a new decade safe with your family, pets, and a greener environment.

Take note that fireworks also cause a lot of stress to pets. Look into anxiety wraps for your four-legged friends. Make sure they are all accounted for before the celebrations. Most pets will look for a dark corner to hide when fireworks barrages start, don’t force them to come out until they are relaxed to avoid injuries.

Fireworks are not expected to go away any time soon. They are almost always awe-inspiring and fun, after all. But as always, be extremely careful and use them responsibly.

We’ll be exploring more eco-friendly ways to celebrate the holidays and we’d like to hear from you. How do you celebrate the holidays the eco-friendly way? Share your stories with us on Facebook. To stay updated, sign up for the Flood Control Asia RS newsletter. Check out our Youtube page for videos on flood prevention.

Andreas Klippe

About the author

Andreas Klippe is founder of the Asian Center for Flood Control located in Clark Freeport Zone, Philippines.

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