Fireworks – A Cause for Celebration?
With the flash of colors long-faded from this past weekend’s sky, the 4th of July fireworks spectaculars across the country may have already escaped the minds of many. But what they have yet to escape is the air, soil, waterways, and living environment surrounding these colorful explosions. It is here that red, white, and blue translates into a deadly brew of lithium, aluminum, and copper compounds. All of which can easily bioaccumulate, increase cancer risks, and cause a host of health problems such as contact dermitis, SIDS, and lung irritation. The chemicals and heavy metals used in fireworks can remain airborne at very high concentrations for days following their combustion. Dr. Richard Wilkin of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a study on the concentration levels of an especially concerning pollutant, perchlorate, at a lake in Oklahoma before and after a fireworks display and found that “within 14 hours after the fireworks, perchlorate levels rose 24 to 1,028 times above background levels,” which exceeds many states’ maximum permissible levels for drinking water. This chemical has been shown by the EPA to negatively impact the thyroid’s intake of iodine – which is an important body function needed to produce thyroid hormone and thereby prevent disorders such as hypothyroidism. And that is just an example of the damage one chemical can do. So it is time for Americans to start considering more environmentally-friendly alternatives, such as laser light shows, to celebrate Independence Day; for shouldn’t everyone have a right to clean air and water?