Volume 14, Issue 29 ~ July 20 - July 26, 2006

Letters to the Editor

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Another Look at Fireworks

Dear Bay Weekly:

June 29’s EarthTalk column “Fireworks: Pyrotechnic Pollution Bursting in Air” [Vol. xiv, No. 26] did a disservice to the public interest by offering up a series of environmental and health claims that were consistently exaggerated or outright false.

Without a hint of qualification, the article asserts that toxic chemicals from fireworks “rain down on neighborhoods from coast to coast, often in violation of federal Clean Air Act standards.”

This alarming pronouncement is not supported in any credible published study; the fact is that scientific studies and official reports conclude that the total volume of chemical products produced by most large fireworks displays contribute only an environmentally insignificant amount to background environmental levels. Common sense tells you this should be the case, because most large fireworks displays are annual events or infrequently scheduled and are finished in less than an hour; the aggregate environmental contribution is very low.

Even with respect to the environmental impact of regular pyrotechnic events, the EarthTalk article makes seriously incorrect assumptions. A comprehensive study by DeBusk et. al. in 1992 of the chemical pollution in an environmentally sensitive lake due to regular large-scale fireworks displays at Disney World concluded that detectable amounts of barium, strontium and antimony had increased in the lake but not to levels considered harmful to aquatic biota. The report further stated that “environmental impacts from fireworks decomposition products typically will be negligible in locations that conduct fireworks displays infrequently.”

EarthTalk got it wrong. Regional traditions of magnificent professional fireworks displays are safe and sane.

—Curt Dunnam, Trumansburg, New York

Literacy Council Finds Its Tutors

Dear Bay Weekly:

Thank you for the highlight about the Anne Arundel County Literacy Council [Vol. xiv; No. 27: July 6]. We put out the word that we needed 27 more tutors and — either by serendipity or by the grace of God — exactly 27 volunteers came to our orientation meeting.

Thank you and please thank editor Sandra Martin; if it weren’t for her excellent presentation [at a seminar for non-profit organizations] in May about the Top 10 Ways to Get Your News in Print, the Anne Arundel County Literacy Council would never have had as good a turnout as we did.

— Creighton Olsen, Anne Arundel County Literacy Council secretary

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