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Pretty Pollutants

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Always remember the 5th November…

Bonfire Night, a celebration which brings friends and family together with fireworks and fires to warm up on a cold November evening.  However, Guy Fawkes is regularly the most polluted day of the year in the UK, burning masses of timber and shooting rockets into the air adds carbon monoxide and other dangerous to background air pollution. The added smoke in the atmosphere has the potential to cause serious health issues especially to those suffering from lung problems.

Researchers have found that airborne particles from Guy Fawkes and Diwali, a celebration in which fireworks are now in heavy use, are more toxic than traffic sourced pollution, as they have proven that they deplete lung defenses much more than pollution from traffic sources. Across India, Diwali fireworks have been linked to a 30% to 40% increase in recorded breathing problems.

However, if you are still lit to celebrate the failure of a Catholic plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament nearly 400 years ago, then there are some things which can help curb negative, environmental impacts.

The open sale of fireworks has been a much-debated issue, due to the danger they bring to children, and with the UK’s health & safety, it is a wonder how there isn’t a ban on the use or sale of fireworks already. Improved restrictions on their sale wouldn’t be so bad. It would decrease the amount of private displays and force people to attend public events, which is a great way to minimise the spread of pollution, as well as having the local pets thank you!

Another option is the use of fireworks propelled with compressed air as a greener option, a topic which has been discussed over recent years,; however their cost still means their use is limited.

Of course, the most environmentally friendly solution would be to stop the use of fireworks and drastically limit bonfires. Although, this seems a rather extreme solution, not to mention a lot less fun.

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About Author

Hannah Limberger

Environment Editor 2017/18

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