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Firework season is here: So what's the solution to all the pollution?


As many celebrated Diwali yesterday, with some amazing displays of fireworks, it got the team here at CAFA thinking about the effect of these types of celebrations on the environment and what we can do to mitigate these impacts.


Sadly, fireworks tend to be harmful to the environment. Fireworks emit a significant amount of pollutants and can contaminate water and air. Additionally they also leave debris behind and can injure users, often terrify veterans and household pets. They aren't the worst pollutant in the world, but the impact of fireworks makes many long for a better solution.


The two most impactful effects of fireworks is noise and air pollution. We have been researching some of the solutions to these problems.


Eco friendly fireworks

So is there such thing as an eco friendly firework? and are they available to purchase?

Environmentally-friendly fireworks have been developed to reduce the amount of atmospheric pollution produced. Traditional fireworks are normally made using a charcoal and sulphur fuel, a perchlorate oxidiser to help with burning, plus binders, colourants and propellants. When ignited, the pyrotechnics are spectacular, but they emit large amounts of smoke, unused perchlorates and metal by-products from the colourants, all of which are contaminates.


Eco-friendly fireworks have a clean burning, nitrogen-based fuel. This means a perchlorate oxidiser is not needed and because there is little smoke, only small amounts of metal salts are needed to produce the brilliantly coloured flames.


Sparklers have also been developed to become more eco friendly. These sparklers are like a traditional sparkler but made out of wood so there’s no hot wire waving about and there is no hot wire left after burning, the sparkler burns away as it is being used and all the ash drops to the floor, all you are left with is a wooden handle, aside from being safer they are also more environmentally friendly.


Although they have been developed eco friendly fireworks they do not appear to be readily available to the general public to buy. Hopefully this becomes more accessible to the public in the near future. However, you are able to buy silent, low noise and quite fireworks which tackles the issue of noise pollution and you will also have some very grateful pet owners.


Electric light displays

Using a large electric light display screen powered by LED light bulbs is another sustainable option. This way you are able to re use the screen each time rather than single use materials.

If the screen is also powered by solar panels that is even better! The carbon footprint of this option would be far smaller than setting off fireworks.


Drones

Drone fireworks are gaining in popularity. Drone displays are becoming a replacement for fireworks, due to concerns about firework-related air pollution and environmental damage. Governments in China and India have already taken measures such as the implementation of drones to prevent fireworks at the Lunar New Year and Diwali. Drones also featured at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony in 2020 and Australia has been rumoured to be using this alternative for their firework display at the upcoming New Years. Drones like these could replace fireworks as the light show of choice to light up the sky.


It would be great to see some of these initiatives becoming further developed and used at future events and celebrations such as the upcoming fireworks night and New Years.



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