By Luke Pitts
Each year, Americans gather on July 4 to celebrate our nation’s independence and fireworks are one of the most popular ways to celebrate. Americans bought more than 185 million pounds of personal fireworks in 2012.
Beautiful and powerful as they are, fireworks do contribute to air pollution. Smoke from fireworks poses a health risk — particularly for those with asthma — and traces of accelerants and heavy metals used to create colors can stay in the air and water for weeks. You don’t have to cut out fireworks completely to reduce pollution. Watch this short video on what London researchers have learned about the health effects of fireworks and what you can do prevent your exposure.
Fewer fireworks equal less pollution. For a beautiful, healthy Independence Day, try attending a community fireworks display. Many cities and nearby attractions have planned celebrations that are open to the public. See the Kansas City Star’s Fourth of July event list here. Rather than spending money on your own display, pack a picnic and a blanket and go with friends or family to one of these events.
If you do celebrate at home, try exploring alternatives. Biodegradable confetti, glow sticks, glow jewelry and noisemakers can all be fun ways to celebrate our nation’s birthday. You can even create your own laser show and set it to music. There are numerous guides on the Internet and electronic devices that can help. Just pick a playlist and start your spectacle of lights.
Protect yourself, your family and our air quality — and have a great Fourth of July!