Guy Fawkes night is unique in the air pollution calendar. The smoke from bonfires takes us back to a time when our homes were heated with solid fuel, and the smoke from fireworks also contains tiny inhalable particles of metals that are used to make different colours. These include red (strontium), green (barium), blue (copper), silver (aluminium and titanium), purple (copper and strontium) and gold (iron).
This year still cold, settled weather allowed fireworks and bonfire smoke to build up in towns and cities across England and Wales. The north-west of England was the worst affected with pollution in Blackpool, Liverpool, Warrington and Wigan reaching the maximum value of 10, or very high, according to the UK daily air quality index. The Guy Fawkes air pollution experienced by people in Liverpool in 24 hours was equivalent to five days’ normal exposure.