Fireworks: Cheap Thrills & Toxic Consequences

African American girl with fireworks sparklersEach year, people across the nation mark the Fourth of July with festive fireworks. While the spectacular sparklers may be mesmerizing, research shows that the cheap thrill is accompanied by some toxic consequences.

According to an article published by the European Respiratory Society, all fireworks contain carbon and sulfur, which are necessary for burning. They’re also packed with a long list of toxic substances like arsenic, manganese, sodium oxalate, aluminum, iron dust powder, potassium perchlorate, strontium nitrate and barium nitrate, which act as stabilizers, oxidizers and add colors.

When lit, fireworks release a large amount of air pollutants: sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and particulate matter (PM) along with several metal salts including aluminum, manganese, and cadmium. All of these have been linked to poor respiratory health, especially among children.

Persons suffering from asthma, are particularly at risk, researchers from the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC), say. The dangers can be frightening. So much so, that experts advise asthmatics to avoid exposure altogether.

Then, there’s the fact that firework-related injuries have been at an all-time high – the worst in at least 15 years, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports.