Fireworks Are in the Air! Should You be Aware?

This week, millions of Americans will celebrate the country’s Independence Day (July 4) with fireworks.  A while back, I blogged about how firework residue affects the water you drink.  What about the air you breathe?

Researchers in Thailand, China and Japan studied toxic metals that are injected into the air from fireworks displays.  They used an Agilent Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer to determine the concentrations of 31 selected metals.

The researchers found that the combined risk associated with levels of lead (Pb), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), zinc (Zn), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), vanadium (V) and manganese (Mn) was far below the standards mentioned in international guidelines.  However, the lifetime cancer risks associated with arsenic and chromium exceeded guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In my original blog post I talked about perchlorate, an environmental contaminant that is used as a firework propellant.  In a separate study, Chinese researchers compared dust samples collected throughout the country.  Perchlorate analysis was performed using an Agilent LC-MS/MS.

The researchers did not find much difference in perchlorate levels between indoor and outdoor samples, or between North and South China.  However, concentrations in winter were significantly higher than those in summer.  (Winter is when most celebrations that include fireworks occur in China.)

As a result, “Chinese people were under more potential risks of perchlorate exposure in winter than summer,” the researchers found.

If you celebrate this week, stay safe!


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