Pusat Studi Linkungan Ubaya

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Fireworks & Its Environmental Pollution

January 04, 2011

PSL UBAYA:

The New Year’s celebrations around the world
have just passed. Many of us must also have
joined the celebrations by making (or at least
just watching) fireworks displays. Use of
fireworks in various kinds of celebrations has
recently become very common. But have you
thought about the impacts of fireworks toward
the environment and our health?
Fireworks were invented in ancient China in the
12th century to scare away evil spirits. Main
component of fireworks is gunpowder. Fireworks
technology has then keep progressing to produce
more awesome effects and displays. However,
behind those ‘beauty’, fireworks technology has
impacted the environment too.
Fireworks produce smoke and dust that may
contain residues of heavy metals, sulfur-coal
compounds and some low concentration toxic
chemicals. These by-products of fireworks
combustion will vary depending on the mix of
ingredients of a particular firework. (The color
green, for instance, may be produced by adding
the various compounds and salts of Barium, some
of which are toxic, and some of which are not.)
Some fisherman have noticed and reported to
environmental authorities that firework residues
can hurt fish and other water-life because some
may contain toxic compounds such as antimony
sulfide. This is a subject of much debate due to
the fact that large-scale pollution from other
sources makes it difficult to measure the amount
of pollution that comes specifically from
fireworks. The possible toxicity of any fallout
may also be affected by the amount of black
powder used, type of oxidizer, colors produced
and launch method.
Perchlorate, a type of salt in its solid form,
dissolves and moves rapidly in groundwater and
surface water. Even in low concentrations in
drinking water supplies, perchlorate is known to
inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid
gland.
Most obvious is that fireworks will left solid
residues/waste after the displays. These solid
residues can be easily degradable as well as
non-degradable. The solid residues will also
pollute surface waters and open lands where the
debris falls out.
Experts in this field still try to develop new
technology, which would be better and friendlier
to the environment. However, there are actually
other alternatives to fireworks to brighten an
event or a celebration, for example the use of
laser light shows can wow a crowd without the
negative environmental side effects associated
with fireworks.

Download Fireworks___Its_Environmental_Pollution.pdf