Why we should cut back on the fireworks

Fireworks are fun and all, but they present various hazards we should all be aware of and work to reduce, we means cutting back on our addiction to them.

Every year on the Fourth of July, Americans fire off around 240 million pounds of fireworks to create light shows in the night sky in celebration of the day our nation declared independence from Great Britain.

The day is certainly worthy of celebration, but the problem is that fireworks usage is having a negative impact on the environment and potentially our own health.

For example, during President Donald Trump’s July 4th events, the fireworks display caused smoke to waft through the streets of Washington DC into neighborhoods. Many people quickly caught the scent of sulfur and other chemicals released into the air.

People with lung problems are more at risk of agitating their health issues and this smoke is not good for anyone else to breathe in either. In fact, 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide is released from these displays every year, increasing the amount in the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.

Even if you live in the countryside as I do, the effects of fireworks can be seen. Most years there’s a fire risk where I live, yet people still light off loads of fireworks that could easily start a wildfire.

In addition, the loud noise and flashes of light scare wildlife. If you have dogs, they are likely scared to death because they are not used to such things and they certainly don’t understand what is going on. My own dogs were running around in a panic as my neighbors down the road set off fireworks for over an hour. If the dogs are panicking, other animals are panicking, too.

Millions of birds around the country are particularly impacted. In 2010, 5,000 redwing blackbirds died after a fireworks display caused them to fly into a panic and in the chaos they broke their necks and cracked their skulls trying to escape.

Fireworks even threaten our drinking water because of heavy metals and a carcinogen known as perchlorates, a propellant.

Shooting them near bodies of water is hazardous because these perchlorates land in it, eventually finding its way into the food chain and in the water we get from the faucet. Pieces of fireworks can be swallowed by wildlife like single-use plastics are swallowed by many animals, thus killing them.

Clearly, fireworks pose a major problem for the environment, wildlife, our pets and our own health. While this may not have been much of an issue several decades ago, the rising popularity of fireworks displays and home use has turned it into one, which means we need to re-think how we celebrate July 4th in the future so that we can enjoy our day without making wildlife and the environment miserable.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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