Rain and wind can be thanked for the distinct lack of air pollution from fireworks in the greater Reykjavík area, RÚV reports, despite the same number of fireworks purchased as last year. There have been no emergency room visits from fireworks accidents so far, Vísir reports, but plenty of people showed up in hospital as a result of alcohol and drug use, and assault.
Bearing in mind that air pollution measurements from fireworks focus on particule air pollution, there were distinct differences measured between New Year’s 2019 and New Year’s 2020. Whereas in Reykjavík going into 2019, particule air pollution was measured at 980μg per cubic metre, last Tuesday only measured 317μg per cubic metre.
This notable difference was not the result of fewer fireworks being bought; sales actually held steady between the years. Rather, it was the fact that it was rainy and windy around midnight, when the exploding of fireworks reach their peak. This helped clear away much of the particule air pollution, although rain has little effect on lead, chromium, and other heavy metals which are commonly found in fireworks.
Meanwhile, Bergur Stefánsson, an emergency room doctor at Landspítali hospital, described a busy night for his colleagues on New Year’s Eve.
“The night was incredibly busy and there was a lot to do,” he told reporters, saying that staff had well prepared ahead of time to receive more intakes than usual. “There was a remarkable amount of drunk people and people who had taken too many drugs who came to us. There were also a significant number of assaults, one of them very serious.”
Indeed, as RÚV reports, it was also a very busy night for police and firefighters. The police received some 122 calls on New Year’s Eve, with five assault arrests in Reykjavík and one in Akureyri. The fire department responded to 13 calls related to fireworks, but none of these were very serious.
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