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Fireworks: Beautiful and toxic

Fireworks, a tool used to invoke everlasting memories during celebrations worldwide, contain harmful chemicals that are detrimental to both humans and the environment. Such toxins have the potential to remain within the environment for great periods of time. Chinese officials have apprehended the extensive use of fireworks just in time for the Chinese New Year celebrations. The reason for the ban is due to prevent the already severely polluted Beijing from enduring more exposure to air pollution.


While many are dissatisfied over the government’s minor precaution, others have pledged for better health and a safer environment. Various events that represent the very essence of New Year tradition have continued to flourish throughout East Asia, all of which refrain from incorporating deadly long-lasting toxins.


This issue exists denounced outside of East Asia. Yet, firework pollutants have been a rising issue in the United States. In 2007, the American Chemical Society published an investigation confirming the existence of poisons in fireworks. Further analysis proved how the toxins possess the potential to penetrate not only the atmosphere and viable soil, but our drinking water too. Further concern for firework residue has even occurred more locally. In Stone Mountain, Georgia citizens have embraced laser light shows as an alternative to their yearly Fourth of July celebration. Various other U.S. towns have banned fireworks entirely.


Even the private sector has been active in tackling the consequences of setting off fireworks. Disney has transitioned from using gunpowder to compressed air for shooting off their fireworks at their California facility. Other private organizations have even begun developing eco-friendly fireworks, while smokeless fireworks have been used widespread in India since 2011.


Fireworks may create visually aesthetic moments and cheap thrills that bring friends and family together. But at what cost are we enduring in order to support a primitive display of explosives? We sacrifice ourselves and our planet at the expense of short-lived enjoyment, when the long-term effects are shielded by desire and a fading industry. But how can we expect to cherish togetherness when the moments we share behind the striking light of burning aluminum, copper, and barium plagues us with cancers and hypothyroidism.


This Web Exclusive is brought to you by Opinions Editor Stephen Cavallaro.

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