During the past two weekends’ festive celebrations, I am sure most of you would have either participated in celebrations in the form of fireworks, or at least heard the continuous loud bangs from your homes. While fireworks are indeed spectacular, we need to take a step back to consider the risks and impacts which come with the excitement.

Putting on firework displays, especially private ones, runs the risk of physical injury. According to the NHS, in 2020/21, there were more than 100 hospital admissions of people injured by fireworks. And according to Children’s Burns Trust, over 550 children under 16 are taken to the A&E in the four weeks surrounding bonfire night alone. Most of these injuries happen at private displays, as there is no professional staff to handle safety issues, and for public organised displays, families who attend would be far away from the actual hazard. Parents may consider giving children sparklers as a safer alternative, this is a common misunderstanding. Sparklers can reach 2000°C and should not be handled without safety gloves. Any type of fireworks will endanger the people around them.

The sound of fireworks are often compared to gunshots, while they are rarely aimed to harm anyone, the sound alarms the whole neighbourhood, frightening some people, and animals, in particular, dogs, possibly traumatising them. When the symphony of fireworks continues on and on for hours, they often bother people who aren’t participating, heavily disturbing people who are sensitive to noise.  When asked to comment on her thoughts on fireworks, 16-year-old Elizabeth Gbedemah has said that they are “loud”, which “startle a lot of people” and “scare dogs and other animals”. This goes to show that ordinary people are concerned with the impacts of the noise caused by fireworks.

It isn’t just these immediate dangers and impacts, there are long-term consequences to fireworks. They cause air and water pollution. According to Earth.org, fireworks release carbon monoxide, particulates, sulphur dioxide, and nitric oxides, which link to acid rain and lung diseases, into the atmosphere. Fireworks also contain perchlorate which can affect the function of the thyroid gland. These pollutants can cause severe consequences on the ecosystem by altering the pH of soil and water. Fireworks contribute to microplastic pollution in water, with evidence of an increase of microplastic content in Thames River by 1000% after the 2020 new year’s eve firework display within 24 hours. Pollution caused by fireworks is absolutely unnecessary, and with today’s environmental issues, can we really afford any more unnecessary damages to the environment?

If you must celebrate with fireworks, Children’s Burns Trust on their webpage urges people to only attend organised displays as you would be keeping a safe distance from the fireworks. You would get to enjoy the show without the fear of your children getting burned when they run around in excitement. This would also limit the environmental impact of firework as there would only be a limited number of firework displays being held.

So next time, before you decide to put on a firework in your backyard, please consider the question, are the short-lived moments of sparks really worth endangering yourself, your loved ones, and the environment?