By Marcelo Duailibe, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Copacabana New Year’s Eve party, Réveillon, is promoting the theme of sustainability, in part to support the Rio+20 conference coming to Rio in June 2012. However critics have called into question the use of a massive fireworks show, having what they say is a harmful environmental impact, as an appropriate event for raising ecological awareness.
Particularly, the material that gives the green color in fireworks is barium nitrate, considered by experts as the most polluting of all chemicals to color fireworks. The product is used worldwide in fireworks and is the only one available inexpensively in the international market on a large scale.
As O Globo reports, chemists George Steinhauser (Austrian) and Thomas M. Klapötke (German), in a recent issue of the German specialist journal “Angewandte Chemie”, explained the problem: “Fireworks, spectacular though they were instruments of entertainment, are pollutants. Many toxic substances reach the environment when there is detonation of fireworks (….). Of all the substances, barium nitrate produces a chemical effect that green is the dirtiest of all.”
The Municipal Secretary of Tourism, Antonio Pedro Figueira de Mello, said that the format of the fireworks display will be maintained. According to him, everything was carefully planned since September.
“I am not an expert in chemistry, but for years the barium nitrate is used on Copacabana Beach. The proposal is to use the festival to raise awareness of the population to the environmental issue.” said the secretary.
He pointed out that the most important is that for the first time in the history of the festival, there will be compensation for the environmental issue of greenhouse gases. Native species will be planted in the Atlantic Forest in Rio Guandu basin, in Miguel Pereira, which supplies sources indicate supplies drinking water to nine million people in the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area.
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