Last night’s Guy Fawkes celebrations lit up the sky with brilliant fireworks, as they do every year. But what’s left is a thick, polluting smog – is this bad for us and the environment?
The fifth of November is regularly the most polluted night of the year. Firework smoke is dense with tiny metal particles. These metals are added to the fireworks to create different colours.
Even more smoke is created by the potassium and aluminium compounds which propel the fireworks through the air. Combustion clouds can also contain other harmful fumes such as ozone, sulphur dioxide and nitric oxide.
Researchers in London found that these airborne particles damage lung defences far more than pollution from traffic – which suggests a higher toxicity. At bigger public displays this could pose a risk to those with asthma as a lot of the substances used cause irritation and reduced respiratory function when inhaled.
Although particle filters are present on nearly all modern diesel vehicles – and factory emission regulations across the world are continually being tightened – firework pollution remains unchecked. Which means the already toxic compounds used in fireworks may be substituted with cheaper, more toxic substances.
The 2010 Dioxin Inventory shows the emissions from bonfire night accounted for 3.6 per cent of all UK emissions. Whereas, emissions from all of the UK’s energy from waste facilities accounted for just over half of one per cent of the total emissions (0.64%) each year.
According to the World Health Organisation, pollution levels in Bournemouth are ten per cent lower than the safe level. However, recreational polluting such as that from last night continues to cause damaging spikes both in Bournemouth and across the country.