Feux d'artifice : impact environnement et santé


Environmental and Health Impact

Every year, on New Year’s Eve or on July 14th (Bastille Day), numerous fireworks displays are launched all around the world. While they symbolize wonder and celebration, they also constitute a source of air pollution that can pose a risk to human health and the environment.

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How does a firework work?
Do fireworks have an impact on health and the environment??
7 Solutions and more virtuous alternatives to reduce the impact of fireworks”

How does a firework work?

Fireworks are a pyrotechnic process consisting of explosives and incandescent devices designed to produce light, noise, and smoke.

A firework is primarily made of black powder serving as fuel, composed of charcoal (15%), sulfur (10%), and saltpeter (75%), along with an oxidizing agent (usually potassium perchlorate) making up about 10 to 15% of its total composition.

The various colors in fireworks result from the use of fine metallic particles. Each metal, when heated during combustion, reveals a specific and unique hue. For example:

  • 🔵 Copper: It is responsible for the blue color. When heated to high temperatures, copper emits a characteristic blue light, giving fireworks their intense blue brilliance.
  • 🔴Strontium or Lithium: These metals create the color red. When introduced into pyrotechnic compositions and ignited, they emit a vibrant red glow, providing fireworks with their vibrant red coloration.
  • 🟢 Barium: Barium is used to produce vivid green or white in fireworks. When heated, barium emits an intense green light. In combination with other compounds, it can also contribute to creating bright white bursts.

Fireworks: a real impact on health and environment?

Fireworks can have impacts on both health and the environment. During their combustion, they release fine particles, heavy metals, and harmful chemical compounds into the air, water, and soil.

👉 Health impacts of fireworks:

Upon explosion, fireworks release various harmful substances such as black powder (saltpeter, charcoal, sulfur), potassium perchlorate (oxidizing agent), metals for colors (copper, strontium, lithium, barium, etc.), dust, fine particles, gas emissions (carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides), and noise.

This combination of pollutants can affect individuals’ health in different ways:

Fireworks health impacts

*These health effects can vary depending on several factors, including the proximity of exposure, the exact composition of the fireworks used, and individual sensitivity.

👉The environmental impacts of fireworks:


☁️ Air pollution

The combustion of fireworks releases fine particles, heavy metals, and chemical compounds into the air. These contribute to poor air quality and hence atmospheric pollution.

💧Water pollution

The debris on the ground can pollute soils and waters, thereby harming water quality and aquatic life.

🐾 Impact on wildlife
The loud noises from fireworks can disturb animals, especially birds and sensitive species, causing stress and triggering fleeing reactions

💡 Good to know:In 2015, research conducted in the United States and published in Atmospheric Environment indicated an increase of 5 μg/m3, which equates to a 42% rise in fine particle levels in the air within the hour following a fireworks display. This level only returned to normal during the following day.

7 solutions and more virtuous alternatives to reduce the impact of fireworks

👉 Perchlorate-free fireworks:Perchlorates, chemicals widely used in fireworks, pose an environmental risk. To mitigate this impact, it is possible to create alternatives that are free from perchlorates. Perchlorates can be replaced by nitrogen compounds such as tetrazole or bistetrazole.

👉 Low-noise impact fireworks: Designing fireworks that produce less noise helps limit disruptions for animals and noise-sensitive individuals. This involves using materials that generate fewer intense detonations (such as limiting the amount of explosive powder), while still maintaining visually appealing effects.

👉 Local fireworks displays that adhere to environmental standards: Use more environmentally friendly fireworks that employ biodegradable components or materials.

👉 Laser light shows or drone displays: These alternatives to fireworks can offer captivating visual presentations without generating residue or air pollution.

👉 Regulations and restrictions: Implement strict regulations regarding the use of fireworks, including limiting the areas where they can be set off, the times of year they can be used, and imposing stricter environmental standards for the components used.

👉 Public awareness and education: Informing the public about the environmental impact and health risks associated with fireworks can encourage more responsible use and reduce their excessive use. Additionally, this empowers citizens to take charge of their health during these events by providing behavioral recommendations.

👉 Recycling and post-use cleanup: Implement measures to retrieve and recycle fireworks debris to limit their environmental impact.


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