I'm not delusional. I don't believe fireworks are going to be banned anytime soon.
Heck, here in Salem, Oregon, the City Manager ignored pleas from the public and several city councilors to ban the use of fireworks this year given a severe drought condition and recent record-breaking high temperatures.
But I'm hopeful that with enough citizen education, the downside of fireworks will be understood so well, anyone setting them off on or around the Fourth of July will be viewed by most people with the same don't you know better attitude a cigarette smoker is these days.
I've been familiar with the obvious problems fireworks cause.
Fireworks started an estimated 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage.
And trauma to pets. We've had dogs who were terrified of fireworks.
Many people enjoy the booming sounds and flashing lights of fireworks, but they can be terrifying and overwhelming for pets—and possibly hazardous.
On the Fourth of July, many pets become so frightened by the noise and commotion of fireworks that they run from otherwise familiar environments and people, and sadly become lost.
As we enjoy the bright colors and thunderous explosions, it's easy to overlook the impact to wildlife around us. We know what to expect, but wildlife don’t. The abrupt lights and sounds are often seen as a threat by nesting bald eagles and easily startle great blue herons and other colonial nesting birds.
The shock of fireworks can cause wildlife to flee, ending up in unexpected areas or roadways, flying into buildings and other obstacles, and even abandoning nests, leaving young vulnerable to predators. The threat to wildlife doesn’t stop at startling lights and sounds; fireworks also have the potential of starting wildfires, directly affecting wildlife and destroying essential habitat. Litter from firecrackers, bottle rockets and other explosives can be choking hazards for wildlife and may be toxic if ingested.
But when I Googled "why fireworks are bad" I learned that they're toxic, something I hadn't realized before.
Fireworks create highly toxic gases and pollutants that poison the air, the water and the soil, making them toxic to birds, wildlife, pets, livestock — and people — but there are environmentally-friendly alternatives available.
For some strange reason, people around the world have decided that the best way to mark important holidays and events is to have a public fireworks show. We choose to celebrate the birth of a New Year, the freedom of our nation, the triumph of good over evil, by blowing things up.
Most of us are aware that fireworks are dangerous: we either know someone, or know of someone, who ended up in the hospital emergency room due to fireworks, but most people are completely unaware of the more insidious environmental damages and health impacts caused by fireworks.
...But how much more of these heavy metals can just one fireworks show add to the atmosphere? Surely, not much? No, not so. A case study found that within 1 hour of fireworks displays, strontium levels in the air increased 120 times, magnesium 22 times, barium 12 times, potassium 11 times, and copper (Cu) 6 times more than the amount already present in the air before the event.
Pollutants released by fireworks travel far from their origin. Several studies revealed that in mild weather, tagged heavy metals used in pyrotechnics traveled 100 km (62 miles) downwind over a two-day period.
Among the pollutants traced were: strontium, vanadium (V), potassium, titanium (Ti), barium, copper, lead, magnesium, aluminum (Al) and zinc (Zn). These heavy metals add to the toxic pollution in the air. Further, the environmental impacts of these emissions are not confined to the air because these heavy metals are washed out of the air by rainfall, and accumulate in — and pollute — local watersheds.
I don't know if home-bought fireworks are as environmentally disastrous as professional fireworks displays are. They can't be good for the environment, that's for sure. And obviously they bother a lot of people -- including veterans with PTSD -- plus pets and other animals.
One day, I hope, setting off fireworks will be viewed with the same sort of raised-eyebrow disapproval as smoking a cigarette in a public place is nowadays.
There's plenty of other ways to express patriotism on the Fourth of July. Including becoming a super-patriot, my favored approach.
OK. I love the United States. I'm devoted to this country.
I also love...
My neighborhood, Spring Lake Estates
My city, Salem
My county, Marion
My state, Oregon.
My country, United States (as already mentioned)
My continent, North America
My planet, Earth
My galaxy, Milky Way
My universe, which let's call Universe
So I'm super-patriotic.
I love and am devoted to so much more than just my country. Celebrating Independence Day (today!) by focusing on the American flag, fireworks, nationalism, our military, the Founding Fathers (no mothers, apparently) strikes me as an excessive attention to a small slice of what every person in this country should be devoted to.