With the 4th of July tomorrow, I know many of you (or at least our American readers) are planning on seeing some fireworks. I’m sure, too, that you all know fireworks are… well, unhealthy for us and the environment. Besides the smoke and nasty chemicals released by the fireworks, they can also leave a lot of litter. Among common chemicals in fireworks are potassium and ammonium perchlorate, which can contaminate ground and surface waters and cause thyroid damage in humans as well as animals. According to a study done by the Environmental Protection Agency, within 14 hours of a fireworks display, perchlorate levels can spike by up to over 1000 times normal levels, and can take up to 80 days to return to normal levels.
A healthier option is in the works. New formulas are being created that replace perchlorate with nitrogen-rich materials or nitrocellulose, which will burn cleaner and produce less smoke. This will also reduce the levels of toxic heavy metals used as color-producing chemicals, such as copper and barium. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a step forward, and small steps can lead to big things.
The problem with these eco-friendlier fireworks will be the price, but that isn’t surprising. Label anything as being eco-friendly (or friendlier) and the price always seems to sky rocket.