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Are Fireworks Bad for Your Health?

Did you know that fireworks contain a variety of chemicals that are harmful to not only the environment, but the human body as well?Among other things, fireworks consist of gun powder, accelerant, heavy metals and other toxins like ozone, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitric oxide, many of which are carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals.

These toxins can enter your lungs directly or through contamination of the ground and water supply as these toxins end up in our soil, oceans, lakes and rivers.

The negative effects on health go way beyond a temporary inflammation of lungs in vulnerable people. You may not notice any immediate effects, but these types of chemicals have a damaging effect on your endocrine system, nervous system and immune system and can result in a variety of health problems down the road like thyroid disorders, weak adrenal glands and a variety of nervous system related disorders, memory disorders or mental health disorders.

Many firework displays take place over lakes, rivers and oceans, which puts these toxic chemicals directly into our water supply.  This not only puts us at risk, but fish and all other aquatic wild life as well, which means it moves up the food chain. When chemicals are absorbed by fish, it not only affects their health, but ours when we eat them.

In a study by the Department of Environmental Protection that monitored eight groundwater wells on the Dartmouth campus where fireworks are displayed regularly, perchlorate levels were found to be up to 62 micrograms per liter.

Perchlorate, the chemical used to make the fireworks blow up, inhibits the thyroid’s ability to acquire iodine from the bloodstream, which can lead to hypothyroidism. They have also been found to cause cancer in mice and rats.

Although the firework display may last only a short period of time, many of the chemicals dispersed in the process persist in the environment indefinitely.

For example, Strontium, which is a metal that produces the bright red colors in the fireworks, deposits deep in groundwater and soil and has a half-life of 29 years. Strontium has a long list of negative effects to health like birth defects, impaired bone growth, anemia, impaired clotting abilities and damaged bone marrow.

Other heavy metals released from fireworks, like cadmium, aluminum  barium, are well known to be associated with many health conditions like Alzheimer’s and other dementias, bi-polar, depression, anxiety, heart disease, kidney disease, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, chronic fatigue and more. They disrupt the endocrine system, immune system, gastrointestinal system, metabolism, and neurotransmitters in the brain. These metals also accumulate in other forms of life and move up the food chain.

I encourage you to visit this wonderful and informative site on the shocking facts about fireworks as well as a variety of creative suggestions for non-toxic alternatives like kite flying. Some communities have found that laser light shows can be a less toxic but equally appealing option.

Although fireworks are enjoyable to look at, we ’d be well served if we found another less toxic way of celebrating our independence. After all, we sacrifice some of our freedoms when we lose our health to a toxic environment.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Grace Soltis December 27, 2015, 1:45 am

    I’m very concerned about the ever growing proliferation of fireworks and the negative impact it is having on our environment, as well as the health of humans and other wildlife. I am discouraged to discover that no organization exists to raise awareness of the many toxics potential hazzards of fireworks and to work toward the elimination their use. This has been accomplished by one woman in a county in south Africa and nowhere else in the world to my knowledge. Meanwhile the toxins the clean air and water laws were created to keep out of our environment are being spewed out in celebration of various ” happy” occasions while we race for the cure for cancer and grapple with other diseases likely caused by fireworks. If you know of any such group please advise.

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