Is Guy Fawkes night a real danger to the environment? 

Guy Fawkes day, or more commonly known as bonfire night, is an annual celebration, commemorating the failed attempt of the gunpowder plot on November 5th, 1605. So, what is the gunpowder plot? 

This story starts in 1570 in York, England, where Guy Fawkes was born. His parents were protestants during his childhood but Guy converted to Catholicism. Soon after he turned 21, he left England to join the Catholic Spanish army. In 1605, he joined a group of English Catholics in a plot to blow up the House of Parliament along with King James I and his government. They hid barrels of gunpowder under parliament and Fawkes was responsible for lighting the fuse to the barrels. This plot obviously failed and is now infamously remembered as Guy Fawkes Day. 

We celebrate this day every year singing rhymes such as “remember, remember the fifth of November”, or with fireworks. Maybe even burning a dummy called a ‘Guy’ on a bonfire. This may be a day of commemoration for brits but it is a day of pollution for the environment. 

Bonfires and fireworks contaminate our air with hugely elevated amounts of soot.  Researchers from the university of Leeds tested air quality during bonfire night and found soot in the atmosphere was 100 times its normal levels. Dense smoke plumes are produced, resulting in an increased emission of air pollution. Experts are now claiming that bonfire night has a detrimental effect on the environment. 

You can see in the image above, the smoke and damage produced by these dangerous explosions; it’s also harmful for us. The smoke produced can enter our lungs having catastrophic side effects. Firework smoke inhalation is particularly devastating as it can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma and acute bronchitis, and increases the susceptibility to respiratory infections.  

Bonfire night may be a time for celebration but it is also important we understand the effects its causing to not only us humans but also the environment.