Firework impacts on natural environment

The City of Cockburn's response to the Western Independent (Curtin University) on 19 October 2021 about firework impacts

Question: I'm currently writing an article on fireworks and the air pollution/environmental concerns they may create, in regards to the City of Cockburn's decision to phase out fireworks due to a range of issues, based on a case study commissioned earlier this year.

Answer: The City will continue to investigate alternatives to fireworks displays with the aim of phasing out City-sponsored fireworks in the long term.

The City will continue to permit small, well organised fireworks in the City at appropriate venues in the short to medium term.

The Desktop Review and Impact Assessment of Fireworks – Manning Park Spring Fair Case Study noted that while the impacts associated with the Manning Park fireworks are likely to be minimal there may need to be further investigation relating to the potential accumulation of contaminants from fireworks over time.

Metals released from fireworks may be deposited in soils or waterbodies or inhaled by humans or fauna. Many of the metals used in fireworks have carcinogenic or toxic impacts on humans, flora and fauna.

Oxidising agents used in fireworks can contaminate soil, groundwater and surface water within a reasonable radius of the display.
Oxidising agents such as perchlorate are readily water-soluble and return to the ground through precipitation potentially impacting the quality of soil, groundwater, surface water and the health of organisms through uptake.

It is unlikely that a single firework display will produce contaminants in concentrations high enough to impact the quality of the soil and water, and health of flora and fauna, but there is the potential for contaminates to accumulate over time causing long-term impacts.

Loud noises, such as those produced by fireworks, are likely to cause a fear response for most animals such as flight, running or cowering, but medium or long-term impacts were unlikely. The greatest risk perceived to fauna and pets is that caused by blunt-force trauma injuries as animals try to flee the area.

Light generated from a fireworks display is likely to cause a flight response in birds, while packaging not entirely combusted during the explosion of a fireworks device will return to the ground creating a source of pollution or choking hazard for fauna.

The City already takes steps to ensure litter is collected following the display with the fireworks vendor undertaking a thorough clean up after the event, while also recycling many materials.

The risk of fire was the final impact considered for the firework display and based on the information available this risk was found to be appropriately managed by the City.  

For more information contact

Media and Communications Officer
City of Cockburn

Email [email protected]

Phone 08 9411 3551

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City of Cockburn
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Western Australia, 6965

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for Country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.