The Environment Agency of Iceland will measure pollution in the air over Iceland five days before and after New Year’s, RÚV reports, and lead will be amongst the pollutants that are tested for.
The agency has set up a precise air quality map for those who want to follow the levels of pollutants in any given area. Drop-down menus allow users to select the kind of pollutant they want to see measurements for, and where.
The project comes at a time when a debate over fireworks is picking up steam in Iceland. As many readers are aware, Icelanders are big fans of fireworks. For a few weeks each year, fireworks are sold to the general public, with much of the proceeds going to the rescue squad and the scouts. Fireworks are so popular, in fact, that Icelanders explode hundreds of tonnes of them on New Year’s Eve alone.
However, fireworks are not without consequence. People with respiratory illnesses are advised to stay indoors on New Year’s Eve, not least of all because fireworks do contain harmful materials such as lead, copper, and chrome, amongst other chemicals. As RÚV points out, fireworks contain heavy metals which are not dispersed by the wind. In fact, these metals seep into the ground and stay there long after the celebrations are over.
A poll taken last September shows that most Icelanders are in favour of stronger regulations on the sale of fireworks, and some people have called for an outright ban. Such a measure will not be going into effect this year, at least.
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