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Ban the Bang!
Pollution...

Green-conscious Ban the Bang voters often comment on firework pollution. Their concerns relate either to the blankets of throat-catching smoke, smells and smog that can hang in the atmosphere for days, or else the millions of used fireworks littering gardens and streets throughout cities and suburbs. Some voters also raise questions about the industrial waste created during manufacturing.

A main principle of this site’s philosophy (Looking-Glass) is to: "research and develop pragmatic solutions. This is achieved by first setting aside counterproductive elements across the ecological and socioeconomic spectrum such as eco-extremism, internet alarmism, marketing jargon, political rhetoric, negative technology and last-but-not-least, greenwashing. Looking-Glass analyses cause and effect at the core level and seeks a common-sense solution which propagates natural stability."
With our Ban the Bang campaign, we recognise the ever-lengthening periods in which fireworks are used – particularly in the UK - and the emotional distress that their excessive use causes to millions of humans and animals. This annually recurring firework issue is a socioecological quandary like no other … and for multi-layered reasons. Regarding the ecological impact, there is no doubt that fireworks cause a rise in atmospheric pollution - and on the microbiological level, there are concerns regarding toxicity in soil and water from firework “fallout”.
 
It’s important however to evaluate the environmental impact as an issue which should be automatically resolved if the various Ban the Bang proposals can be enforced by government. But it is also important to consider that such proposals can still strike a balance which should appease all - and that means sociably peaceful fireworks that can be enjoyed for a couple of days a year … and not weeks. By imposing an effective law on firework use, as raised through this campaign, pollution caused by them should be greatly reduced. We would expect firework pollution to drop to a negligible level, particularly when compared to far more serious environmental damage caused by smoke and toxins from other sources. For example, the surging trend in wood burners installed in an increasing number of homes which do not have sufficient smoke / particulate filters are causing a scaling pollution problem in parts of central Europe and potentially the UK (already hinted when smog was blown to the UK from Europe during early 2014 causing health alerts.) This form of pollution, created directly by the public, are issues which will have a far more pressing effect on our ecology in the long term … and Looking-Glass will later be researching into the necessity of a law that all wood stoves should be effectively filtered.

Although this campaign is putting less emphasis on pollution caused by fireworks and more on the suffering and nuisance caused to animals and humans through noise, Looking-Glass is otherwise primarily a non-profit web source designed for solutions and discussion on environmental ethics along with animal and humanitarian issues. Therefore it only makes sense that we should provide a general overview and opinion of the ecological / health impact of fireworks … as follows.

As regards firework manufacturing and the post-consumer waste it creates, we would expect that the materials used to make fireworks, such as cardboard, paper and plastic casings are from a recycled source and thereafter all parts of used fireworks are then recyclable. But if not, why not?

Secondly, the active ingredient of fireworks is a gunpowder mix of potassium nitrate, charcoal and sulphur - and invariably laced with other chemical and mineral compounds including barium, copper, sodium and perchlorates – all depending on the firework effect. The result of this toxic cocktail in various concentrations produces smoke which may contain heavy metal residues and other toxins known to cause health issues.
For example, a US Environmental Agency study has monitored the levels of perchlorates on water after firework displays, with levels rising from 24 to 1,028 times above normal perchlorate background levels twenty four hours after the display. Firework displays by lakes were studied to confirm the data. High perchlorate levels are believed to have adverse effects on human health and wildlife.
The emissions from just an occasional firework display should not raise concern for the health of humans, wildlife and the environment. However, the present, extreme repetition of firework use in countries like the UK may potentially be enough to cause detrimental effects in the long-term. Further scientific research should be carried out in the UK to monitor this.  

Finally, it’s certainly worth mentioning the source of the ingredients to make a firework. The active ingredients listed above are derived from the extraction industry – mining being one of the world’s most environmentally damaging processes - whichever way it is undertaken - as well as its notoriety for appalling working conditions.

Logistically, there’s also the manufacturing carbon footprint to consider regarding the product / ingredients miles of fireworks - and ultimately the co2 emissions created by setting them off.

As suggested, once we delve into the workings of firework manufacturing and its ecological shortcomings we dilute the main focus of this campaign. Therefore we can only initially hope that along with initiatives to produce far more environmentally friendly peaceful fireworks, the manufacturers will take the opportunity to consider the sourcing of more eco-friendly materials and innovative methods – and with them create a mode of pyrotechnics which are kinder to all aspects of our increasingly fragile environment.

 

 

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What Else Can You Do To Help?

Practice the Ban The Bang! firework code which brings peace to your neighbourhood ... for animals and communities in general.
During firework celebrations, only buy fireworks which don't pose a threat to wildlife, neighbourhood pets or local residents. I.e. nothing that bangs or screams and no aerial fireworks like rockets or starbursts.
If you have lots of trees in your garden then it's not a good idea to have any kind of aerial type fireworks. Birds are quietly roosting in trees all around you at night. Just because you can't hear or see them doesn't mean they don't exist after sunset!
Even if you are planning a "quite" firework display, INFORM ALL YOUR NEIGHBOURS WITH PETS WELL IN ADVANCE

Protecting your own pets.
First of all, If available in your country, get your cat or dog microchipped. As we have already mentioned, many cats and dogs run away from home in panic when there are fireworks around and often get lost. With a microchip implant it's far easier to reunite an animal with its owner. Animals have extremely heightened senses compared to humans and can react to disturbances (threat) way beyond the human "radar". This means that even our additional advice given below can often proove useless when trying to keep your animal's nerves at bay during the ever-lengthening firework season. However, some of these tips may help alleviate stress with lesser effected companion animals.
Although it is clear that firework celebrations are lasting weeks instead of just a couple of days, do whatever you can to keep your cats and dogs indoors during firework seasons. If you have animals in hutches outside and can't move them indoors, then cover the hutches with heavy blankets (leaving a suitable air-gap). This will help reduce the noise and the animal should also remain undisturbed by flashing lights. Keep cats and dogs indoors, close windows and blinds and create an audible diversion for them, like turning on some music - this should be reasonably loud but soothing sounds to try and divert the animal's attention from the outside).Very many Ban the Bang! voters have commented that they have to sedate their companion animals as a last resort. (Even this has not helped many pets). If you intend to take sedatory steps you must only do so with your vet's advice and only administer the correct medication provided by your vet.

Wild animals and birds that are shocked or injured.
Keep an eye out for animals and birds in shock that may have fallen from trees. In most cases human intervention will add to the animals distress and we recommend you keep a watchful distance from the animal / bird and make sure no one else goes near it. If the animal continues to behave in a shocked state for more than three or four hours
or is clearly injured then you should alert your local animal welfare organization as soon as possible. They will send someone to investigate further.
Important Note: Tell your local animal welfare organisation to link up free with
The Lost and Found Animals Network (LaFAN). If an animal is lost through fright during firework activities, LaFAN provides a simple method for the public to track down a rescue place in the vicinity of their lost animal. The LaFAN website address is http://www.looking-glass.co.uk/lafan

Keep a check on the elderly and young children.
The elderly are particularly susceptible to loud disturbances. They often live alone and have pets which can become nervous and agitated by the noises. It's a good idea to check on elderly neighbours if you think they or their pets may be suffering during firework periods.
Very young children also need comforting at night during loud firework activity as they often wake up frightened by the bangs outside.

If you are aware of any incidents involving the suffering of any animals through the use of fireworks then please use our contact page

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