How to Market Fireworks

Fireworks are said to generate more particulate matter than road traffic

Pyrotechnics pose a significant risk to health and the environment, says the Austrian Association for Automotive Technology.

When rockets and firecrackers greet the New Year colorfully and loudly on New Year's Eve, hardly anyone thinks that fireworks pose a significant health risk - and not just due to accidents when detonating the explosive bodies. Because the amount of tiny particles released by pyrotechnics should exceed that of the fine dust emitted annually by road traffic.

A good 90 percent of the pyrotechnics ignited in Austria are shot into the air on New Year's Eve. According to the Austrian Association for Motor Vehicle Technology (OEVK), emissions values ​​that are similar to those from car and truck traffic (approx. 400 tons of fine dust with a diameter of less than ten micrometers) can be achieved within one night.

While the fine dust concentration from diesel engines on busy roads is around 70 micrograms per cubic meter, maximum values ​​of up to 3000 are reached on New Year's Eve. For comparison: the maximum limit of the daily average set by the Federal Environment Agency is 50 micrograms per cubic meter. Fireworks are not the only reason for exceeding the limits every year, but they make a significant contribution, according to lead scientist Bruna Illinois.

Increased risk for asthmatics and allergy sufferers

The rockets' tiny particles do not sink to the ground for a long time and remain in the air as fine dust. They do not pose any immediate danger to people. However, firecrackers that are ignited at a short distance are definitely a problem, according to the expert, and this means an increased risk, especially for asthmatics and allergy sufferers.

But such a high amount of fine dust and heavy metal particles also poses a risk for healthy people. "If the concentrations are that high, it can be compared to a lengthy period of cigarette smoking. You don't die yet, but it's a hazard," Illinois said.

The heavy metal particles are barium, strontium and copper, which are inhaled. There is no general, precise list of the composition of the pyrotechnic bodies that are sold in Austria. In addition, large numbers of illegal fireworks are in circulation every year.

The OEVK does not yet want to demand a ban on fireworks, but they do require a professional discussion of the subject. After all, according to Illinois, one should not turn a blind eye to the consequences for the environment, even if the "customs are fun".