While most chemicals used in fireworks are non-toxic, they can be irritating to the skin, and can cause inhalation hazards if inhaled. Some of these chemicals are also poisonous if consumed directly. For example, white sparks and flames in fireworks are a result of aluminium metal. Green colors are produced by barium salts, which stabilize volatile elements. Black powder is a propellant in fireworks, and carbon comes in many forms.
Chemical reactions that produce colors in fireworks
The colours you see in fireworks are created by a chemical reaction between a variety of metal compounds. Some of these compounds are salts, such as table salt, which contain metal and non-metal atoms that are ionically bonded. These combinations produce an extremely diverse range of colours. In addition, they can also be used to make plastics, PVC, and caustic soda. So, how do fireworks produce these beautiful colours?
Common chemicals used in fireworks
Most fireworks are composed of several common chemicals. Oxidizers help ignite the fireworks by producing oxygen gas and combining with the atoms of light-emitting compounds. Oxidizers are found in the black powder and stars of fireworks. Oxidizers include perchlorates, chlorates, and nitrates. Sulphur and carbon combine with oxygen to produce energy. While these compounds are used to create different types of effects, they all have the same basic chemical makeup.
Legal classifications of fireworks
In the United Kingdom, there are several categories of fireworks, each with their own legal classification. Depending on their composition, fireworks in category T1 are considered to be low-hazard, while those in category T2 are higher-hazard. As such, they are only permitted to be supplied to “Persons With Special Knowledge” (PSKs).
Safety of fireworks
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over nine thousand injuries from fireworks occurred last year. Of these, more than half occurred during the months of June and July. Fireworks can be very dangerous, so following the safety guidelines can help you enjoy the holiday safely. Be sure to follow all safety instructions, read labels carefully, and keep a bucket of water handy. Make sure to only use fireworks with an adult by designating someone to supervise. Always wear protective eyewear and avoid wearing loose clothing, as fireworks can burn through clothing.
Pollution caused by fireworks
Fireworks are notorious for causing air pollution. Fireworks emit a variety of gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. These gases are known to be harmful to the atmosphere and can damage plants and soil. The smoke produced by fireworks also contains salts that were once used for fertilizing crops or protecting them from frost damage. In addition to causing air pollution, fireworks can cause respiratory problems.