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In my local newspaper, the Salzburger Nachrichten, there was the following article to be found on 31st of December, 2016:

Guten Rutsch - krach, bumm! Hell wird es wieder sein am Nachthimmel und schön krachen wird es natürlich auch. Der Katzenjammer folgt später und das hat in diesem Fall nichts mit Alkoholkonsum zu tun. Der Österreische Verein für Kraftfahrzeugtechnik (ÖVK) legte rechtzeitig im alten Jahr noch eine Studie vor.

Kernaussage: Die weltweiten Feuerwerke in dieser Nacht der Nächte produzieren so viel Feinstaub wie alle Pkw und Lkw zusammen in einem ganzen Jahr. Der Mobilitätsverein ARBÖ ging mit diesen Ergebnissen an die Öffentlichkeit. Es soll damit das Bewusstsein geschärft werden, denn "Die Autoindustrie muss aufgrund immer strenger werdender Abgasnormen ständig neue Umweltschutztechnologien entwickeln". Dies stehe im Gegensatz zur Tatsache, dass "in einer einzigen Nacht Unmengen von Schadstoffen freigesetzt werden".

Offenbar leiden nicht nur Haustiere unter der hemmungslosen Silvesterknallerei. Umgekehrt zeigen die großen Fortschritte bei der Abgasreinigung auf dem Fahrzeugsektor, was Vorschriften bewirken. Es wird Zeit für ein Gesetz: Schach dem Feinstaub zu Silvester.

I append my own translation:

A good start into the new year - bang, boom! The night sky will be bright again, and of course, it will be very loud, too. The yawning follows later, and this has nothing to with drinking alcohol here. The Austrian Club for Automobile Technics (ÖVK) presented a study right at the end of the old year.

Main statement: The worldwide fireworks in this very night produce as much particulates as all cars and lorries together within one year. The automobile club ARBÖ published these results. It should sharpen the consciousness, because "the automobile industry has to develop new technologies for protecting the environment all the time due to regulations becoming stricter." This is contrary to the fact that "in one night huge amounts of pollutants are emitted."

Obviously, not only pets suffer from recklessly starting fireworks at Silvester [New Year's Eve]. On the other hand, the great improvements of the exhaust gas treatment in the automobile industry show which effects regulations have. It will be time for a new regulation: Keep the particulates in the Silvester night in check.

Well, the article does not state clearly, where these data come from: Is it only Austria, the whole world? Whatever they mean, I can hardly believe that the Silvester fireworks of all Austria/all the world emit as much particulates as all the cars and lorries of all Austria/all the world.

Are there some statistics the justify or disprove this study, or where does this study originate from?

  • I'm pretty sure the particulates produced by fireworks are different from those produced by cars... so cars probably produce 0% of the particulates of the type produced by fireworks, making the claim true... – Bakuriu Jan 1 '17 at 16:10
  • @Bakuriu The claim states that they are equally pollutive, not mentioning the type. – rexkogitans Jan 1 '17 at 18:07
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    Quote: The worldwide fireworks in this very night produce as much particulates as all cars and lorries together within one year This says that fireworks literally produce as much particulates as transportation. I don't see anything saying "the pollutants are equivalent according to this measure", they literally say the same quantity (i.e. the mass of produced particulates), not their effect on atmosphere. – Bakuriu Jan 1 '17 at 19:21
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    It is meaningless to compare the overall pollution of cars to the overall pollution of fireworks (Are heavy metals better or worse than Nitrogen Oxide?) We have to determine (ideally from the claim's context) what the specific measure is. – Oddthinking Jan 2 '17 at 10:21
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The claim isn't about pollution in general, but about "Feinstaub" - which can likely be translated as particulate matter - more specifically "PM10" (particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 μm):

Da nun die meisten Feuerwerke in der Silvesternacht abgeschossen werden, kann gesagt werden, dass mit rund 400 Tonnen in einer Nacht so viel PM10 (Particulate Matter = Feinstaub, mit einem Durchmesser von weniger als 10 Mikrometer) durch Feuerwerke produziert wird, wie von allen Pkw und Lkw zusammen in einem ganzen Jahr. APA-OTS

I was unable to find any reference to this claim at övk.at. It seems that they had a study in 2015, of which only the citations are available online, and another study in 2010, where the graph of "Abbildung 10" was quite obviously interpreted in a wrong way. It also seems that they repeat this (misunderstood) claim quite regularly. Here is a reference from 2014.

Regarding the 2016 claims, vienna.at disputes them, based on a claim from the Umweltbundesamt:

Der OEVK kam unter Berufung auf eine Studie auf rund 400 Tonnen Feinstaubpartikel mit einem Durchmesser von unter zehn Mikrometern (PM10) – sowohl bei Pkw und Lkw wie auch beim Silvesterfeuerwerk. Anders sind die Ergebnisse der Luftschadstoffinventur aus dem Jahr 2015: Demnach wurden im Jahr 2014 aus dem gesamten Straßenverkehr, das heißt inklusive Reifen- und Bremsabrieb und Kraftstoffexport, 5.025 Tonnen PM10 emittiert, bei Feuerwerken kam man hingegen insgesamt auf rund 300 Tonnen PM10 in diesem Jahr, berichtete das Umweltbundesamt auf Anfrage der APA.

My translation:

The OEVK names 400 tonnes of "Feinstaub" with a diameter of under ten micrometers (PM10) for cars and fireworks based on a study. The results of the Luftschadstoffinventur from 2015 are different: In 2014, traffic - including tire and brake wear as well as Kraftstoffexport* - resulted in 5025 tonnes of PM10, while fireworks result in 300 tonnes of PM10, says the Umweltbundesamt after being questioned by the APA. * see here

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    in other words, NO :) Of course it all depends on how you calculate it, All fireworks used vs. only personal automobiles for example would yield a number much closer to a 1:1 match. And people with an agenda just love "tweaking" the numbers by being highly selective in their choice of datasets. – jwenting Jan 2 '17 at 13:30

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