So it's almost July 4 so everyone in the US is gearing up for firework day. Plenty people have already had premature firings of fireworks in late June. Even in Canada we have our national day on July 1 and even though you're technically not even allowed to shoot fireworks in many major Canadian cities anymore, people still do and still do it days in advance. And it's not like celebrating with fireworks is a Anglo-North American thing either, pretty sure every country does it.
But here is why I don't think they should be used, and I will attempt to convince you as well.
I think the most obvious problem is noise pollution. Everyone, myself included, has been trying to comfort their dog whenever some asshole decides to unexpectedly shoot one off on June 27. It's generally doable to take your dog to a more remote area on the day of so they don't hear it, designated firework quiet zones in the city are a godsend for this, but do you expect us to go take our dogs away for a week before the actual day? It obviously affects cats and other pets too. As well as young humans, you might have a couple of those in your house as well. And mitigations by moving oneself away from the noise can't help the wildlife in the area, who are even more severely affected. The fast and erratic nature of firework sounds makes it very difficult to ignore. Wildlife can sometimes adapt to ambient human-caused noises like cars on a road, but basically no animal with hearing can tune out fireworks, not even humans. Sources are in the dropdown below, (pop the DOIs into SciHub to read them for free, I usually try to link free papers to begin with but it seems that everything on this subject is pay per view):
::: spoiler Sources. Trigger warning: Science
* Recreational noise pollution of traditional festivals reduces the juvenile productivity of an avian urban bioindicator - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117247
* Evaluation and analysis of firecrackers noise: Measurement Uncertainty, legal noise regulations and noise induced hearing loss - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apacoust.2021.108462
Second and perhaps the biggest issue is pollution. Fireworks are explosives, and as such use a lot of highly reactive chemicals to get the energy needed to fly high up into the air and release a ton of light for all to see. Highly reactive chemicals, especially ones not commonly found in nature and therefore organisms have fewer or no defenses against them, are generally very harmful to both human and ecological health. The unexploded fuel along with bits of plastic and paper casings get thrown everywhere in the vicinity of the firing site, and if you do it at a park with a lot of natural greenspace and wildlife, that's even worse. These pollutants are extremely long-lasting in the environment and get washed into groundwater, rivers and lakes, and eventually the ocean, not really decomposing in any amount of time relevant to human life, just dispersing and becoming less concentrated. Not to mention the smoke and fumes become air pollution and can spike the particulate concentration in an urban area. Same with the metal salts that give fireworks their brilliant colours, they don't really burn up and just fall to the ground or float around in the air. Metallic pollution is also extremely harmful to the environment. Not going to go too far into the ecology or biochemistry behind this, but here are some scholarly sources if you're interested. Sources are in the dropdown:
::: spoiler Sources. Trigger warning: Science
* Fireworks induced particle pollution: A spatio-temporal analysis - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosres.2016.05.014
* The air pollution caused by the burning of fireworks during the lantern festival in Beijing - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2006.07.043
* Changes in air pollution and attitude to fireworks in Beijing - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2020.117549
* The air pollution during Diwali festival by the burning of fireworks in Jamshedpur city, India - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.uclim.2018.08.009
* Environmental impacts of perchlorate with special reference to fireworks—a review - https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-014-3921-4
* Not just a flash in the pan: short and long term impacts of fireworks on the environment - https://doi.org/10.1071/PC22040
* Impact of 4th of July Fireworks on Spatiotemporal PM2.5 Concentrations in California Based on the PurpleAir Sensor Network: Implications for Policy and Environmental Justice - https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18115735
* Particulate Pollution from New Year Fireworks in Honolulu - https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10040068
The other major ecological impact, and the one that's been memed to death, is the risk of wildfires. Climate change is making summers hotter in dryer in many places, including the US and Canada. And might I remind you that July is indeed the summer in this part of the world. Along with mismanagement of forests and refusal to use controlled burns to reduce the risk of a massive, out of control wildfire, the risk of a single stray spark falling back down burning down entire forest ranges is not out of the realm of possibilities, nor is it unheard of. We've all heard the news reports about gender reveal forest fires and most people seemed to take it as a joke and not as the ecological and humanitarian disaster that a massive unquenchable forest fire actually is. When every year we get thousands of pictures of forest fires rolling through towns and making them look like Dante's Inferno, maybe we should be more careful about what incendiary devices we use. Sources are again in the dropdown:
::: spoiler Sources. Trigger warning: Mainstream News
* Quebec wildfires: Province bans fireworks in many areas ahead of Fête nationale holiday - https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/fete-nationale-quebec-wildfire-fireworks-1.6883013
* California couple whose gender-reveal party sparked a wildfire charged with 30 crimes - https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/21/couple-gender-reveal-party-wildfire-charged
* Weirdly enough I actually couldn't find much scholarly sources on wildfires caused by fireworks.
Good news is that this is not an unfamiliar issue. Fireworks are already being restricted or banned all around the world. China invented fireworks and they have deep cultural legacies and symbolism, and is extremely important to many people during certain holidays (speaking as a Chinese person), and even they are getting more and more restrictive with it especially in urban areas. I too will miss the sight of fireworks lighting up the sky during lunar new year, but I genuinely believe the ecological impacts outweigh the benefits. Fireworks are pretty, but so is ivory. If its only job is to look pretty and is extremely harmful otherwise, that's no excuse to keep it around.