In a supermarket first, Sainsbury’s has announced that they are banning the sale of fireworks across all of their 2,300 branches recognising how distressing they can be for pets, the elderly and war veterans.

The Dogs Trust have praised the supermarket’s firework ban: “We congratulate Sainsbury’s on their decision not to sell fireworks this year and would encourage others to do the same.

“Although they can look beautiful, fireworks can be very distressing for dogs when let off unexpectedly, and because they are so easily accessible all year-round, dog owners are on tenterhooks as to when their beloved pooch will next be frightened.

“A survey found over half of the British public think fireworks should be limited to public displays only. To reduce the distress caused to dogs we would like their use restricted to licensed public displays at certain times of the year or organised events, which are well publicised.”

According to Gary Fuller, Senior Lecturer in Air Quality Measurement, King’s College London, fireworks can also lead to substantial air pollution problems.  Guy Fawkes night causes some of the worst cases of pollution in the UK with the proliferation of bonfires also adding to the problem. In Germany, tests have shown how goal and match celebrations with flares, smoke bombs and other pyrotechnics can fill football stadiums with high concentrations of airborne particles.

“Fireworks that fall to the ground contain residues of unburnt propellants and colourants, while particle pollution in the air eventually deposits on the ground or gets washed out by rain. Some of this finds its way into lakes and rivers, where percolate has been linked to thyroid problems, causing limits to be set for drinking water in some US states. This is a major concern for lakeside resorts and attractions that have frequent firework displays. Researchers in London have collected airborne particles from Diwali and Guy Fawkes. These were found to deplete lung defences far more than pollution from traffic sources, suggesting greater toxicity. Across India, Diwali fireworks have been linked to a 30% to 40% increase in recorded breathing problems. Like New Year’s Eve, fireworks are a relatively new phenomenon at Diwali.” Gary Fuller.

Fuller states that fireworks are already the largest manufactured source of some types of metal particles in the UK atmosphere. Firework pollution remains unchecked.  He therefore calls for an innovative approach to be applied to reduce the environmental impact of fireworks, so that the population of the UK can continue to enjoy the excitement of displays for years to come.