New Years In Iceland: Less Pollution, No Serious Fireworks Injuries - The Reykjavik Grapevine

New Years In Iceland: Less Pollution, No Serious Fireworks Injuries

Published January 2, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Fireworks either got cleaner this year, or fewer people exploded them, because while air pollution over New Year’s was high, it was less than last year. Seven people ended up in the emergency room that night due to fireworks-related injuries, but no one was seriously injured.

Fréttablaðið reports that in addition, no one arrived to the hospital complaining of respiratory difficulties, contrary to the case last year. This is reflected in the measured air quality in the Reykjavík area on New Year’s Eve.

RÚV reports that the air quality at four different capital area air quality stations was measured as “very bad” in terms of air particles. However, as The Environment Agency of Iceland’s air quality map shows, dangerous molecules, such as hydogren sulfide and sulfur dioxide, never reached dangerous levels.

Þorsteinn Jóhannsson, an air quality expert at the Agency, told Fréttablaðið air quality in the capital area was less bad this year than it was last year.

Anecdotal reporting, and side-by-side comparison of videos taken of fireworks at the same time last year and this year, seem to reflect fewer fireworks being set off this year than last year, but there is no definitive evidence of this. In fact, Jón Svanberg Hjartarson, the director of the Rescue Squad, which sells most of the fireworks in the country, told Fréttablaðið that they sold only slightly fewer fireworks this year.

The weather may have played a factor as well—while there was a fairly steady stream of light winds over the capital this past New Year’s, which helps clear away some of the air pollution, the New Year’s of 2017 into 2018 had considerably less wind.


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