Burns, bang trauma and fine dust: Is there no alternative to New Year's Eve fireworks?

Burns, bang trauma and fine dust: Is there no alternative to New Year's Eve fireworks?

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New Year's Eve fireworks: beautiful - but bad for the environment and health

At the turn of the year the sky will shine again in bright colors. The glittering rockets usually delight young and old, but the New Year's Eve fireworks also pose health risks. In addition, the environment is heavily polluted.

Fireworks are nice to look at, but they also have negative aspects: they produce tons of dirt and waste, pollute the air and always have unpleasant health consequences such as burns, eye injuries and hearing loss. Therefore, many experts are in favor of a ban on fireworks.

Thousands of people need medical attention

As the Federal Environment Agency explains on its website, around 4,200 tons of particulate matter (PM10) are released every year by burning fireworks, the majority of them on New Year's Eve.

According to the information, this amount corresponds to approximately 25 percent of the annual amount of wood fires and approximately two percent of the total amount of fine dust released in Germany.

It has long been known that the inhalation of fine dust endangers human health. "The effects range from temporary impairments of the respiratory tract to an increased need for medication in asthmatics, to respiratory diseases and cardiovascular problems," writes the Federal Environment Agency.

In addition, thousands of people need medical treatment every year for fireworks injuries.

Think about alternatives

This is how thousands of people experience a blast trauma when a firecracker is too loud or explodes too close to the ears, the Barmer health insurance company explains in a message. This often results in damage to the ear or even permanent hearing loss.

"For medical reasons alone, we should think about whether rockets and firecrackers are an alternative to welcoming the new year," says Dr. Utta Petzold, doctor at Barmer.

Various signs of a blast trauma

According to the doctor, those who do not want to do without fireworks should at least be aware of the risks. Permanent damage from a blast trauma could occur from around 140 decibels.

"From a medical point of view, it makes sense that certified firecrackers in Germany are only permitted up to 120 decibels," explains Petzold.

If, despite caution and sufficient distance after the New Year's Eve, symptoms such as poor hearing, a feeling of blocked ears, dizziness or whistling in the ear, these could be signs of a blast trauma.

Painful burn injuries

But not only a blast trauma can be a painful reminder of New Year's Eve. "If traces of smoke penetrate the skin, they should be removed immediately by a doctor," warns Petzold.

Otherwise there is a risk that the body's own defense cells will absorb soot particles and that a “tattoo” made of dirt will be difficult to remove.

If the bulge leads to fire injuries, it should be cooled for a few minutes, preferably under running tap water. Ice or very cold water are not suitable for this. In addition, burns should not be treated with powder or creams because they stuck to the wound.

Open blisters should be covered with a sterile wound dressing and then given medical attention, the expert advises. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Federal Environment Agency: thick air at the turn of the year, (accessed: December 31, 2019), Federal Environment Agency
  • Barmer: New Year's Eve fireworks: pretty, but also without alternative ?, (access: December 31, 2019), Barmer

Video: Londons New Years Fireworks 2019 LIVE - BBC (May 2022).