Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fireworks over Fireworks

A few years ago I attended a 4th of July party at the home of a friend in Astoria. She has a wonderful view of the river from a large deck. It was a perfect place for the 20 of us to view the Astoria fireworks.

Fireworks are special because you don’t see them every day unless you work at Disney Land. People have a certain reverence for things that don’t come around every day like fireworks, watermelon, the first frost, the first robin of spring, the first smell of autumn in the air…

The fireworks event was at the climax and the smoke in the sky was glowing with different colors as each burst of explosion flashed. The final explosion sent tendrils of glowing red, white and blue flames towards the river like the slowly moving branches of a weeping willow in the breeze.

It was at that moment a person standing next to me said, “just think of all the heavy metals they just added to the river.” Oh man, again something so innocent becomes sinister. Gone are the days when one could eat a hot dog, stand in the back seat of a convertible while it was being driven, or walk through a field in deer tick country. Is nothing safe and easy any more?

I have to admit that I no longer enjoy the visual uniqueness of the summer time light show because of this. I think about the sturgeon eaters eating the toxic tissue of the fish that inadvertently consumed a feast laced with heavy metals we put in the river. It is truly a wonder our life spans aren’t decreasing due to our own stupidity.

OK, I’m a kook, and you only believe what you read from a reliable source. Try this from

Fireworks produce smoke and dust that contain heavy metals, sulfur-coal compounds and other toxic chemicals. These by-products of fireworks combustion will vary depending on the mix of ingredients of a particular firework. (Green color, for instance, is produced by adding barium, a highly noxious heavy metal.) These variables include the amount of gunpowder used, type of oxidizer, colors produced, and launch method.

Pollutants from fireworks raise concerns because of potential health risks associated with the hazardous by-products. For most of us the effects of exposure to low levels of toxins over a long period of time are unknown but for persons with asthma or multiple chemical sensitivity the smoke from fireworks may aggravate existing health problems. Environmental pollution is also a concern because heavy metals and other chemicals from fireworks can contaminate water supplies and because fireworks combustion gases can contribute to such things as acid rain which can cause vegetation and even property damage. Because of the pollution some countries are against the use of fireworks, yet many events are populated with the use of fireworks around the world. In the US some states and local governments restrict the use of fireworks in accordance with the Clean Air Act which allows laws relating to the prevention and control of outdoor air pollution to be enacted.

Happy 4th every one!


Blogger Syd said...


I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll likely perish doing something stupid. (possibly worthy of a Darwin Award)

So, I just don't worry about all the new dangers of living today.

10:52 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I just hope you don't get any heavy metal fallout in your beautiful blue eyes, Syd.

By the way, you will have to find someone to post your obituary on your Blog when you go.

12:00 PM  

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