Fireworks are described as a class of low-explosive devices containing gunpowder among other combustible chemicals which are designed to go off and burn spectacularly once lit. Fireworks are typically used to celebrate events and are commonly used during the Fourth of July celebrations that mark Independence Day. Fireworks are made by enclosing a highly combustible substance usually gunpowder in a shell and attaching a fuse into the body of the shell so that it comes into contact with the gunpowder. On igniting the fuse, the flame moves into the shell and once in contact with the combustible material produces the light and sound effects that form part of the festive mood. Fireworks, while a good way to add to the festive mood pose real danger to those using them or watching the fireworks show. These disadvantages make the use of fireworks a dangerous activity that is likely to cause serious harm to the environment and the parties involved. While fireworks provide some level of enjoyment in their use, they can also be extremely dangerous when used improperly, which is almost always the case, and as such they should be banned for the general safety of those involved.
Fireworks cause considerable damage to the environment. The primary reason for the observation that fireworks should be banned derives from the immense damage the use of fireworks causes to the environment. Fireworks has been known to cause damage to the environment in which it is fired from. The sites of the fireworks launch have been known to sustain considerable damage and have debris and litter. One of the primary ways in which fireworks affect the environment is the pollution of the soil in and around the area where the fireworks were launched. Since the fireworks typically contain chemicals and heavy metals, the effect on the environment is usually dire. Metals such as copper when released into the soil in large quantities have profound effect on the surrounding soil. Some other derived compounds common in fireworks like perchlorates pollute the soil and any nearby water sources through leeching (Wilkin, Fine & Burnett, 2007). Even more concerning is the possibility that the pollution of soil and water sources could be transferred through the food chain, resulting in effects in human beings.
Fireworks also result in noise and light pollution. Fireworks displays are usually accompanied by bright flares of light and loud noises. Where people are watching fireworks displays there usually are loud noise levels which exceed acceptable levels. The noise is usually accompanied by very bright lights which have the effect of illuminating quite a distance from where the fireworks were deployed. The noises have been found to exceed SUVA guidelines and are also likely to cause temporary or at times sustained damage to the hearing of persons too close to the works. The light has been found to have the capability of damaging the eyesight of those who gaze too closely at the light even when they are far off or those too near to the fireworks display. Moreover, the loud noises and bright lights have been found to induce epileptic fits in those who have epilepsy. Furthermore, the displays also cause stress and immense fear to animals near the vicinity in which they are fired. Since it causes anxiety and matching stress reaction in the animals, using fireworks near animals is both cruel and inhumane.
Fireworks result in the pollution of the air by dangerous chemicals. The accompanying explosion that results when fireworks are lit releases mostly poisonous chemicals into the atmosphere. The smoke that results is also particle-laden and results in contamination of the environment in which it is released (Vecchi et al., 2008). The resulting effect is that the air quality is severely affected (Zhuang, Xu & An, 2007). The contaminants in the air are subsequently absorbed into rain and when the rain falls over soil or water sources goes on to pollute them as well. From the pollution of the water and soil, crops are in turn contaminated and once again dangerous chemicals are introduced into the food chain. The end result is diseases and disorders that result from exposure to heavy metals in food, and in some cases poisoning. Even more alarming, fireworks are thought to be responsible for sustained damage to the Ozone layer. The levels and the nature of the damage cannot be accurately predicted, therefore, to prevent any more damage the use of fireworks should be reconsidered.
Fireworks have been known to result in fires. Fireworks contain highly combustible substances and chemicals, chief among them gunpowder. When these elements burn, they do so at extremely high temperatures. Three firework sticks burning together have the corresponding heat signature to that of a blow torch. The production of these high levels of heat has been known to cause grass and forest fires when done outdoors. Fireworks burn so hot that there are cases on record where they resulted in fires in green plants. The forest fires usually result in the displacement of wildlife and damage of plant ecosystems. At times the fires have even resulted in the death of plant and animal life. When the fireworks are fired close to homes or in close proximity to human dwellings, they could potentially cause fires on the premises. It is not uncommon for fires arising from fireworks to burn down homes and schools. Such fires result in extensive damage to property, even more reason to ban fireworks.
Fireworks have a high propensity to accidents during incidents of daily use. Fireworks by design are very fickle and unreliable. Accidents resulting from their use are fairly common. Two of the most common accidents are cross ignition and the tendency to fall over the audience. Cross ignition is where sparks or embers from a lit firework lights up another. This usually results from not spacing the fireworks appropriately. Cross ignition presents real danger of harm to a person or damage to the environment as a result of the fireworks going off when they are not supposed to. In cases where the fireworks have not been appropriately set, the trajectory of fireworks is quite difficult to predict. Under such circumstances, it is fairly common for the fireworks to fall out such that they head towards the crowd. The danger involved here is that it may result in physical harm to those watching the display. As a result, it is advisable that care is taken to avoid both occurrences.
Fireworks can cause serious bodily harm to those lighting them up. Owing to the high temperatures and design flaws common in most of them, injuries that include burns, eye injuries, lacerations, dismemberment, vision loss, and in extreme cases death accompany accidents involving fireworks (Wilson, 1982). A study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission places the number of fireworks related deaths in the United States at eight in 2013, bringing the total of such deaths since 2000 to 94 (CPSC, 2015). In addition, approximately 11,400 people suffered injuries brought about by fireworks within the same period. A startling statistic presents where 65 percent of these injuries happened in the 30 days around the Independence Day celebrations on July 4th (CPSC, 2015). The sad part of these statistics is that children and young adults were the ones most likely to be affected by the fireworks accidents. Even more concerning was the fact that a majority of the said injuries resulted, not from the larger fireworks, but from smaller ones like sparklers which are often mistaken to be safe for kids.
The fireworks making process also results in injuries and damage to those involved in the process. People get killed every day in the course of the manufacture of fireworks. Research points to the mortality rate of gunpowder explosions in factories as being high. Additional concerns present where in the course of the manufacturing process, the workers come into contact with dangerous chemicals. This exposure results in greater risk of ulcers, lead poisoning and damage to the central nervous system. The fireworks also pose a danger to the workers since it is estimated that a majority of the fireworks made in Chinese and Indian factories do not meet the minimum safety and quality requirements. Consequently, these further increase the chances of explosions at the factories. Another reason for concern is that child labor is the predominant form employed in the factories. Coupled with the risks already identified, it is extremely likely that working under such conditions leads to the loss of their lives, and at such an early age.
Fireworks also tend to cause a variety of injuries during their production owing to the sensitive nature of the process and the volatility of the constituent materials. Manually mixing chemicals such as oxidizers, fuels, igniters, sand, and special effect chemicals is a highly volatile process during the course of which accidents are exceedingly common. The major causes of accidents are electricity charges, friction, overheating, and human errors. Even seemingly small effects like dust, impact and static electricity can cause explosions. During such instances, the high environmental temperatures that result from the explosions (exceeding 1000◦C) cause severe burns. Gunpowder, when it explodes, causes compound injuries which are usually very severe, large and deep. Owing to how easily these can be set off, fireworks present an imminent danger to those who manufacture them in factories. Also, fireworks present a major challenge to transport and store since they can go off at any time, seemingly without cause. For the danger they present, we are better off eliminating them.
Fireworks are increasingly being faked, and cases of ordinary explosives being passed off as legitimate fireworks are extremely common. In attempts to capitalize on the popularity of fireworks in and around festive seasons, some unscrupulous individuals make fireworks without any due considerations for any safety measures. Under such conditions, there is no difference between the fireworks and ordinary explosives. The harm and damage they can cause is in many ways similar to that of ordinary explosives. Even more disturbing is the prevalence of homemade fireworks in the market presently. The Consumer Product Safety Commission research figures mentioned previously indicate that all fireworks related deaths in 2013 were as a result of the use of homemade fireworks (CPSC, 2015). Owing to the danger they present, and the propensity to causing harm in individuals, and the inability of current legislation to effectively regulate them, fireworks should be banned. Banning of fireworks is admittedly the best way to control and eliminate accidents that result from their use.
If fireworks are to be used safely, some considerations must be put in place. These safety tips will ensure that the risk of harm associated with their use is all but eliminated. Fireworks should never be used during windy days as during these it is extremely likely that they will cause fires which will spread even further due to wind. Whenever they are in use, a water source should be close to douse any accidental fires that spring up. In addition, they should only be used outdoors on paved areas clear from homes or any combustible materials. To prevent and minimize cases of children being injured by the fireworks, it is advisable that adult supervision should be present whenever children or young adults are using fireworks (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2001). The directions n safe use of the fireworks should be observed to ensure that minimal harm comes to those using them. A bucket of water should be handy to dispose of used fireworks so as to ensure minimal chances of fire. In addition, it is advisable that a certified pyro-technician should handle the fireworks display so that accidents are minimized.
Further considerations involve the choice of fireworks. It is advisable that one does not attempt to make their own fireworks as these are almost never safe to use. Moreover, one should buy the fireworks locally and from reputable manufacturers only. Some firework varieties are illegal owing to their tendency to cause accidents. Some of the varieties of fireworks that should be avoided are those that are ground audible including chasers and fire crackers. Other firework types to avoid are aerial devices including reloadable tubes, helicopters, mines, aerial spinners, and missile-types. These take an unpredictable path when lit posing a significant risk of harm and bodily injury are therefore not a suitable choice for fireworks. Some types that are better suited and safer as choices for fireworks displays include cone fountains, cylindrical fountains, flitter sparklers and crackling devices. Ground spinners, toy smoke devices, wheels and illuminating torches are marginally safe as well. When one has to use fireworks, it is advisable the use one of the latter two categories to ensure a safe experience.
To conclude, while fireworks afford those who see the displays they put up some marginal level of enjoyment, they cause serious bodily harm and injury, damage to the environment, and have a high propensity to causing fires. They are also made using child labor in conditions which are likely to lead to exposure to dangerous chemicals or explosions. For these reasons, and to ensure the general safety of all those involved in the display, it is advisable that they are banned altogether. Since the process of the banning of the use of fireworks may take some time, temporary measures to assure the safety of all those involved have been advanced. In all, these will likely aid in ensuring those who use the fireworks are free for harm until such a point as the ban is in effect.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2001). Fireworks-related injuries to children. Pediatrics, 108(1), 190-191.
CPSC,. (2015). Fireworks Injuries. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Retrieved 6 December 2015, from http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Safety-Education/Neighborhood-Safety-Network/Posters/Fireworks-Injuries/
Vecchi, R., Bernardoni, V., Cricchio, D., D’Alessandro, A., Fermo, P., Lucarelli, F., … & Valli, G. (2008). The impact of fireworks on airborne particles. Atmospheric Environment, 42(6), 1121-1132.
Wang, Y., Zhuang, G., Xu, C., & An, Z. (2007). The air pollution caused by the burning of fireworks during the lantern festival in Beijing. Atmospheric Environment, 41(2), 417-431.
Wilkin, R. T., Fine, D. D., & Burnett, N. G. (2007). Perchlorate behavior in a municipal lake following fireworks displays. Environmental science & technology, 41(11), 3966-3971.
Wilson, R. S. (1982). Ocular fireworks injuries and blindness: an analysis of 154 cases and a three-state survey comparing the effectiveness of model law regulation. Ophthalmology, 89(4), 291-297.
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