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What do fireworks mean for health?

When we think of Bonfire Night it is unlikely that the first thing that comes to mind is air pollution. We are all aware of the dangers of burns from fireworks but what about other ways they can damage our health?

When fireworks explode they release very fine dust particles which are rich in toxic metals. It is these metals which provide the colourful displays and loud bangs. These particles can enter your lungs and aggravate the symptoms of those suffering from lung diseases. In addition, smoke from bonfires contains carbon monoxide and other pollutant gases and so is also harmful to those with health problems, including heart conditions.

In London, Diwali and Guy Fawkes Night bonfires and fireworks have often led to elevated levels of particles, with local concentrations reaching the ‘very high’ pollution threshold. Many Guy Fawkes events are displaced from the 5th November to the nearest weekend. If the weather is still, with little or no wind, the pollution can last for several days, presenting health risks to those who are vulnerable.

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