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New Year's Eve fireworks are a fine dust bomb

Due to the ban on the sale of firecrackers and fireworks, the fine dust pollution on New Year's Eve will probably be significantly lower this year than in previous years. Environmental organisations would like to see a permanent ban in order to reduce the harmful emissions.

More than 2,000 tonnes of fine dust are blown into the air by fireworks every year. This accounts for about one per cent of the fine dust pollution of PM10 and even about two per cent of the emissions of PM2.5 of an entire year. A full 75 per cent of this is generated on a single night: New Year's Eve.

This year, the Federal Environment Agency assumes that the air on New Year's Day will be significantly cleaner than in previous years due to the sales ban: "Of course, a considerable reduction in particulate matter pollution on New Year's Day can be expected, since (...) almost no fireworks will be set off," said Federal Environment Agency (UBA) spokesman Felix Poetschke.

How much less particulate matter will actually be emitted this year, however, is still uncertain. This is also due to the fact that although sales are banned in Germany, setting off New Year's Eve fireworks is still permitted in many places. Only in individual places have the authorities issued a ban on setting off fireworks. This is to prevent larger gatherings of people, especially on otherwise busy streets and assembly points.

Environmental organisations have been calling for a general ban on fireworks on New Year's Eve for years. In view of the increasing requirements of the automobile industry to reduce particulate emissions, this would make sense. Instead of allowing the uncontrolled burning of New Year's Eve fireworks for private individuals, cities could organise fireworks displays at individual locations. This is already the case in some countries like Australia. In Europe, the sale of New Year's Eve fireworks to private individuals is strictly regulated but generally permitted.

Especially with regard to the diesel driving bans that cities are threatened with if the annual average fine dust pollution is too high, a reduction of the pollution by 1-2 percent could make a decisive difference. A night without firecrackers could therefore be a lesser evil than a year without your diesel car, which does not meet the Euro 6 standard.