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Fireworks Could Pose Health Risk to Thyroid Gland or Environment

Tuesday, July 07, 2009 by: Melanie Grimes
Tags: fireworks, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) The traditional Fourth of July fireworks could prove to be detrimental to a healthy thyroid and to the planet. Fireworks contain the ingredient potassium perchlorate that has been linked to thyroid problems. Both rocket fuel and fireworks produce potassium perchlorate, which has been shown to contaminate water supplies as well as to infiltrate the food chain.

Chemicals that are released from fireworks include cadmium, barium, rubidium, strontium, aluminum, dioxins as well as perchlorates. Most of these chemicals are toxic; some are radioactive and known carcinogens. These toxins end up in the water or soil, where they continue to cause hazard to animals and humans for many years. There have been no known links of fireworks to cancer or thyroid disease but because the chemicals remain in the soil for many years, it would be hard to track the original source of the contamination.

Gunpowder, the main ingredient of fireworks, is made of sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate. Since potassium is unstable, potassium nitrate is frequently replaced by perchlorate. Potassium perchlorate is a chemical that is similar in action to potassium nitrate, but with a chlorine atom at its core.

Perchlorates have a negative reaction on the thyroid gland, as they limit the human thyroid gland's ability to intake iodine. Without iodine, hypothyroidism can result, which is why most commercial salt is iodized. Other diseases caused by iodine deficiency include goiter and thyroid cancer.

Low doses of perchlorates have not shown damage results, and the perchlorate from fireworks are purported to incinerate in the air and not fall to the soil. However, in 2007, a lake in Oklahoma was shown to have 1,000 times the normal levels of perchlorate for over 14 hours after a fireworks display, proving that the toxic chemicals are not completely consumed in the air. In Massachusetts, the Department of Ecology studied a field near Dartmouth College campus where many fireworks are fired and found high levels of perchlorate. The Environmental Protection Agency has found no risk associated with fireworks as most of the perchlorate is quickly assimilated into the environment.

Heavy metals, however, are not quickly assimilated and their presence in fireworks can be more long lasting and damaging to soil and water, as well as to human health. Red fireworks contain strontium, but NOT in the radioactive state that has been shown to cause health concerns. Health threats from radioactive strontium include birth defects, anemia, loss of blood clotting ability and damage to bone marrow. Children are particularly affected by strontium entering their bone marrow and disrupting growth. Blue fireworks contain copper, which can lead to the production of dioxins if the perchlorates do not combust. Dioxin is a known carcinogen that disrupts hormone and glucose metabolism as well as causes skin lesions. Green fireworks contain barium, which can cause muscular weakness, stomach problems, diarrhea, cramps, numbness, and difficulty breathing. Barium exposure can even cause heart irregularities and lead to death. Cadmium used in fireworks is also a known carcinogen and can damage lungs, stomach, and kidney disease. Cadmium can be inhaled or taken in via the digestive tract if fish or plants absorb cadmium from soil and water.

At this time, no one knows the health risks associated with fireworks and most assume that the toxic chemicals are incinerated in the air. As many fireworks are made in China, where use of lead in manufacturing has been found, care needs to be exercised when exposing oneself or one's children to fireworks.


About the author

Melanie Grimes is a writer, award-winning screenwriter, medical journal editor, and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University. She also teaches homeopathy at the Seattle School of Homeopathy and the American Homeopathic Medical College.
A trained homeopath, she is the editor of the homeopathic journal, Simillimum, and has edited alternative and integrative medical journals for 15 years. She has taught creative writing, founded the first Birkenstock store in the USA and authored medical textbooks.
Her ebook on Natural Remedies for the Flu is available at:
Follow her blog at

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