There is one (and only one) tradition that is inherently synonymous with Independence Day.  Sure, there may be barbecues, re-enactments, and beach trips, but that’s not really what leaps to mind when you think of the Fourth of July, is it?  No, it’s the fireworks.

Nothing lights up a balmy summer night quite like a controlled explosive whether it’s a hand-held sparkler or a full-on professional light show.  However, as a child, I always felt a sense of unease after a grand fireworks spectacle, and it wasn’t only because of the loud noise and bright lights.  After the sound and the fury has concluded, there’s always a haze that lingers in the air.  So what is the ecological impact of fireworks?

As it turns out, I’m not the only one concerned about that smoke that remains after the fireworks go off.  While the air pollution from fireworks constitutes only about 0.01% of the world’s air pollution, actually – holy cow.  Given that fireworks are far from an every-day occurrence, 0.01% is kind of a big deal.

Of course, we’re not an air pollution blog, we’re a water conservation blog, and the news is bad on that front, too.  After all that pollution leaves the air, it has to drift somewhere.  Sometimes, pollutants known as perchlorate can drift into open water, but more often, they settle into the land and then get washed into waterways with rain storms.

Even the manufacture of fireworks can leave something to be desired.  Fireworks’s main active ingredient is gunpowder, which in turn is made of sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter.  All of these are naturally occurring elements, but the manufacturing process that combines these minerals into fireworks leaves something to be desired

We all get a little patriotic thrill when we see that rocket’s red glare, but this Independence Day, spare a thought for the other great group you’re a member of- humanity – and make some water-wise decisions.

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