Fireworks are a centerpiece in the celebration of the fourth of July. All over the country, we naively enjoy these beautiful, dazzling illuminations, gallantly exploding in front of constellation-speckled backdrops, symbolizing our freedom from the British. What we often don’t think about while we take in the piro-spectacular, is the copious amount of toxic chemicals emitted into the environment.
An article published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology in 2009 found that, following a fireworks display, the amount of perchlorate in nearby bodies of water could increase by anywhere from 24 to 1,068 times the amount present before the fireworks, and that it takes 20 to 80 days for the chemical levels to subside.
Fortunately, researchers are developing a new generation of fireworks that can shine just as brightly without negatively impacting the environment or human health. In an article in Chemical & Engineering News, a publication of the American Chemical Society, Bethany Halford says these nitrogen-rich formulas use fewer color-producing chemicals, dramatically cutting down on the amount of heavy metals used and lowering their potentially toxic effects.
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