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Fireworks

July 25, 2018

 

So how do fireworks work anyway? I know this is very delayed from July 4th, when I first thought about writing a fireworks-related post, but bear with me. We are still in fireworks month.

 

Basically, fireworks are controlled missiles, equipped with a variety of chemicals that emit colors when they are burned. There can be different compartments for different colors, and/or differently timed releases of various components, which combine to give a spectacularly exciting light show.

 

What chemicals give off the spectacular colors? Usually metal salts, when they come into contact with flame, have electrons that are able to be excited to a higher energy level. When those electrons fall back to the energy level that they came from, they emit the beautiful colors that we see!

 

Want to know more about fireworks? Check out:

https://www.explainthatstuff.com/howfireworkswork.html

https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/students/highschool/chemistryclubs/activities/fireworks.html

http://www.compoundchem.com/2013/12/30/the-chemistry-of-fireworks/

 

On a sadder note, though, we should talk briefly about the environmental impact of all these fireworks. Did you ever wonder what happens to all of that smoke? And used fireworks? It turns out the smoke can cause LOTS of air pollution, which is not easily remedied or cleaned up in any way. Are the chemicals from the fireworks toxic to people? They can be, certainly, although general consensus is that the relatively quantities of these chemicals and the short time that people are exposed to them means that we can be reasonably confident that fireworks viewers are safe.

 

Want to know more about the environmental impact? Check out the links below!

https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/are-fireworks-bad-for-the-environment

https://www.terrapass.com/fireworks-impact-environment

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