Nottingham was blanketed by toxic fumes and plumes of smoke from the city’s bonfire and firework spectacular on Monday night.
Residents raised their concerns about the health risks when smoke filled the skies all over the city after the free event at the Forest Recreation Ground.
Thousands of people had gathered at the Hyson Green site, including children and old people.
Though it was a fun-filled event and enjoyed by people of all ages, there was an environmental price to pay.
Richard Hall, of Aspley, a researcher and environmental volunteer, said: “It is very bad for the environment when you see clouds of smoke all over the city and the smell can be felt even inside the houses located four miles away from the fireworks venue.”
Bonfire night is regularly the most polluted day of the year in the UK, although scientists from King’s College London have found that pollution from bonfires is also a part of this mixture. Fireworks can have significant effects on air pollution in enclosed spaces, too.
According to scientists, fireworks pollute the air with tiny metal particles such as lead, mercury, aluminium, cadmium and radioactive barium. Some of these are used to give fireworks their colours. Smoke from fireworks consists of fine toxic dusts that can enter the lungs.
Lean Valley councillor, Sagheer Rajput, defended the event and said it only happens one day a year. He said: “Bonfire Night is a one off event of the year for the citizens’ entertainment and celebration but there is a significant increase in the sale of fireworks and people start their own fireworks from early November, which make the level of smoke worse.
“Nottingham City Council’s environment health department, issues advice for people on the risk and take every step to protect the environment of the city.”
The issue of possible toxins in fireworks has been published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
“The toxicological research has shown that many of the metallic particles in the smoke from fireworks are bio-reactive and can affect human health,” said the report by Spanish researcher IDAEA (CSIC).
“The toxicological research has shown that many of the metallic particles in the smoke from fireworks are bio-reactive and can affect human health”
IDAEA (CSIC) Spanish research, published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials
The effect can be significant for vulnerable people.
Hayley Longstaff, 46, of Loughborough said: “I’m a long term sufferer of asthma and it limits what I can do at this time of year.
“Lots of my family and friends were going to the Forest Recreation Ground Bonfire Night but I couldn’t attend, as it can trigger what could be a fatal reaction.
“I wish the bonfire could be smaller. Does it need to be so big?”
The whole of the Nottingham City area is subject to Smoke Control Orders under the Clean Air Act 1993. Only fuels and approved appliances may be used in Smoke Control areas (‘smokeless zones’).
The Clean Air Acts
The Clean Air Acts and Smoke Control programmes that were introduced following the Great Smog of London in 1952 have been instrumental in reducing levels of sulphur dioxide and smoke and particles, and improving air quality. The Clean Air Act 1993 consolidates the Clean Air Acts 1956 and 1968 and certain related enactments.
The whole of the Nottingham City area is subject to Smoke Control Orders under the Clean Air Act 1993.
Fuels approved for Smoke Control Areas
If you burn any form of solid fuel this affects you. Only authorised smokeless fuel, which can be ignited by bottled gas, firelighters or electric igniters, may be burned in Smoke Control Areas. These fuels have very low quantities of sulphur and ‘particles’.