The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and other than watermelon and barbecued burgers what’s on everyone’s mind is, of course, fireworks. This American tradition has much older roots than most people know, and actually didn’t originate in America at all. In fact, it’s said that the first fireworks came from China in the 800s, when bamboo shoots were filled with gunpowder and set off at the New Year to ward off evil spirits.
• Macy’s department store continues to hold one of the world’s largest fireworks displays every year on July 4. Four barges in the East River, between 23rd and 42nd streets, set off over 25,000 aerial shells and special effects.
• Fireworks production is a major industry in China. As of 2022, China exported nearly $280 million worth of fireworks to the United States.
• In 2022, Americans used nearly 300 million pounds of fireworks; about 270 million pounds were used by consumers, and 30 million pounds for displays.
• The U.S. fireworks industry revenue reached $1.2 billion in 2022, up significantly from the $930 million in 2007.
• The legal limit of explosive material allowed in a consumer firework remains 50 mg (about the size of half an aspirin tablet). Any item containing more than this is considered illegal.
• As of 2023, five states still ban all consumer fireworks (Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island), while the use of only sparklers and/or other novelty fireworks is permitted in six states (Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, and Vermont).
• In 2022, 13 people died and an estimated 9,600 were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About one out of every three people injured were children under 15.
• The CDC reports that the body parts most often injured by fireworks in 2022 were hands (2,500 injuries), eyes (1,700 injuries), and the head, face, and ear (1,600 injuries). More than half of the injuries were burns.