Bonfire Night celebrations contaminate our air with hugely elevated amounts of soot, scientists have discovered.
Researchers from the University of Leeds tested air quality during Guy Fawkes Night events in the city – and found soot in the atmosphere was around 100 times its normal level.
Soot, or black carbon, is produced by incomplete combustion. Black carbon particles are so small, they can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause irritation. Long term exposure can cause harmful effects on the heart and lungs and contributes to millions of deaths worldwide each year. The team took hourly air quality samples on the university campus during Bonfire Night celebrations in 2016 and 2017.
Equipment was set up on the School of Earth and Environment balcony, 15m from ground level and more than 0.5 km from any individual bonfires or firework displays, to give a representative view of the air quality across the city.