Fireworks can be fascinating for many people, but they have high environmental and social costs in the short and long term. In addition to contaminating the soil and water with toxic metals and worsening air quality, fireworks can cause anxiety, fear, stress, disorientation and even death in many animals and also in humans.

Fright due to excessive noise and lights causes some animals to abandon their nests or become separated from their groups or their common territories, leaving them vulnerable, lost, and in some cases unable to return. Also, birds can be hit by explosives. It is not uncommon for wildlife rehabilitation centers to fill up with traumatized, injured individuals and many orphans after ‘celebrations’ with explosives.

Domesticated animals are also affected by this custom. Some get so anxious that if they are lucky enough to have a caring human family, they must be sedated at said festivities to endure them. Others are literally scared to death. On farms, it is common for animals to injure each other because they have nowhere to run and remain traumatized in the long term.

On the other hand, fireworks also affect the elderly, children, people with autism, epilepsy and Alzheimers and other vulnerable populations. Also, the air pollution they generate affects people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia, and can cause severe allergies.

Thus, a distraction that might seem harmless can affect and even end many lives. While some people enjoy an unnecessary spectacle, others have to shut themselves away to take care of their human or non-human relatives, or themselves. The long-term effects of pollution can also be devastating. For many, unfortunately, fireworks turn a ‘party’ into torture, and in some cases a reason for mourning. Is it worth so much suffering for a moment of distraction?

Mati Nuñez del Prado Alanes
Matilde Nuñez del Prado Alanes is from La Paz, Bolivia. She made her thesis in Sociology on cockfighting, as a result of an undercover investigation in the field for 4 years, and she is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Critical Theory. Her topics of interest are the relationships between humans and other sentient animals from the perspective of Critical Animal Studies, the socio-ecological issues, and the intersectionality between different forms of oppression, domination and exploitation.