Due to the increasing number of firework displays, investigations on environmental impacts are necessary. Besides direct possible dangers like the exposure to sound pressures or malfunctioning fireworks, gaseous reaction products and particulate matter (PM) emitted from the fireworks present high potential harm to the environment and the public.
Andreas Dutschke, Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM), Berlin, Germany, and colleagues investigated results of PM measurements during large firework displays. The aerosol concentrations were measured with an engine exhaust particle sizer (EEPS) and an laser particle counter (LPC). The EEPS measures the electrical mobility diameter, as the particles are charged through a corona discharge and dispersed and detected in an electrical field. The LPC instead measures the optical diameter through the interruption of a laser beam.
Considering only the number/mass concentrations in combination with the threshold values, a substantial hazard arising from the aerosol emissions towards the environment and the public was not observed. However, short-term peaks in particle concentrations still present a significantly higher risk for the involved persons. A final evaluation of the possible hazard arising from fireworks emissions can only be given when considering the chemical composition of the emitted particles with regard to toxicity issues. Future investigations should therefore comprise a particle size-dependent analysis to determine the chemical composition of the particles and to estimate the toxic potential.