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How exactly do firecrackers harm animals?

Firecrackers are used around the world to mark various festivals from the global celebration of New Year’s Eve, to national events such as the UK’s Bonfire Night, the USA’s Fourth of July, and India’s Diwali.



Yet, a growing number of organisations and individuals are calling for their curtailment, or even an outright ban. The reasons are that firecrackers create air pollution, their manufacture involves child labour and dangerous working conditions, and their use harms pets, street animals, and wildlife.

Physical harm to the ear and hearing organs

Some firecrackers are so loud, they can cause physical damage and hearing loss to the ears of pets, street animals, and wildlife. Animals’ hearing is often far more sensitive than human hearing and firecrackers are much louder and more damaging to their ears. Fireworks can emit noise of up to 190 decibels (human hearing loss begins at 80 to 85 decibels). Permanent hearing loss and tinnitus can occur.

Physical injury


As well as damage to hearing organs, the reckless use of fireworks can also cause injuries and death to animals and birds who are hit accidentally, or when terrified street animals run into the path of oncoming traffic, or when panicked birds crash into trees or buildings.

Fear and stress, even PTSD!

Repeated exposure to unpredictable and unexpected loud noises can cause phobias in many animals, increasing the fearful reactions to loud noises in the future.i

Canines’ reaction to firecrackersinclude repeated attempts to escape or hide, freezing or paralysis, tremors, hyper alertness etc. and can be similar to PTSDresponses in humans.

Cats experience fear and stress like dogs, although their responses are less studied. Birds can be killed from heart attacks or fright due to the sudden loud noises, and panic and disorientation can cause them to fly into buildings, or abandon nests that they were tending leaving their young to die.

Toxic poisoning


Firecrackers contain poisonous chemicals, and their explosion releases harmful particles including fine dust (PM2.5 and PM10) that is toxic to inhale. The toxic chemicals include perchlorate, dioxins, strontium, lead, mercury, barium, cadmium, and rubidium.

The smoke and PM settles to the earth, contaminating soil, groundwater, and water bodies.

There is also a risk of ingestion of the poisonous residue of fireworks and firecrackers by street dogs and cats.

Solutions?


Many organisations and individuals wish for an outright ban on firecrackers – however a ban is also opposed by many.

A solution may include light shows with lasers or drones, and scientists are also working on ecofriendly fireworks which are noiseless, do not contain toxic chemicals, and give off less smoke meaning that colours are brighter!


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