The Chinese people cherish a long history of lighting firecrackers to celebrate festivals and happy occasions. According to tradition, it will bring luck to their families and add to the jubilance of the day. However, in recent years firecrackers have been banned in many Chinese cities, allowing exception only during the time of the Spring Festival because of the holiday’s importance.
The major content of firecrackers is black gunpowder, made up of sulfur, charcoal powder, potassium nitrate, and sometimes potassium chlorate. When producing firecrackers with special effects in sound and light, other ingredients, such as magnesium powder, aluminum powder, antimony powder, and inorganic salts, are added. For instance, strontium salt can turn sparks red, barium salt green, and sodium salt yellow.
However, when a firecracker is ignited, charcoal powder, sulfur powder, and other ingredients will react with the oxidant in the air and combine to form carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Along with the brilliant flash and deafening bangs in the explosion, bits of paper fly about and the surrounding air is filled with dust and harmful gases such as oxysulfide, nitrogen oxide, and oxycarbide.
In addition to air pollution, firecrackers impact the order and sanitation of the streets, because of the garbage each blast produces. When a firecracker explodes, it produces ear-splitting sounds, which are now generally recognized as a source of noise pollution. Test results show a single firecracker is able to produce a sound over 130 dB.
What is more, during the Spring Festival, accidents resulting from firecrackers emerge everywhere. Firecrackers can lead to fires and injure arms, faces, and eyes. The harmful gases they produce can also irritate our respiratory system and eyes. Therefore, banning firecrackers aids in the protection of the environment and the maintenance of social order.
(China.org.cn September 12, 2007)