North Frontenac Township By-Law 48-05 Fire Ban – Means a total fire ban and shall prohibit; burning of debris, burning in an outdoor incinerator, chimenea, fireworks displays, campfires of any type and charcoal installations.
Metallic compounds found in fireworks
In addition to gunpowder, fireworks are packed with heavy metals and other toxins that produce their sparkling shower of colors. Like perchlorates, the exact effect of fireworks’ heavy-metal fallout is still mainly a mystery, but scientists do know that the metals themselves can wreak havoc in the human body.
Strontium (red): This soft, silvery-yellow metal turns red when it burns, and it’s extremely reactive with both air and water. Some strontium compounds dissolve in water, and others can move deep into soil and groundwater. While low levels of stable strontium have not been shown to affect human health, the metal can be dangerous at high doses. The main health threat posed by non-radioactive strontium is for children, since it can impair their bone growth.
Aluminum (white): Since aluminum is the most abundant metal in Earth’s crust — and one of humanity’s most widely used — avoiding exposure is almost impossible. Virtually all food, water, air and soil contain some amount of aluminum — the average adult eats about 7 to 9 milligrams of the silvery-white metal every day in food. It’s generally safe at these levels, but it can the brain and lungs at higher concentrations. People and animals exposed to large amounts of aluminum have performed poorly on mental and physical tests, and some studies suggest aluminum exposure may lead to Alzheimer’s disease, although that connection has yet to be proven.
Copper (blue): Fireworks’ blue hues are produced by copper compounds. These aren’t very toxic on their own, but the copper jump-starts the formation of dioxins when perchlorates in the fireworks burn. Dioxins are vicious chemicals that don’t occur naturally; they’re the unwelcome byproducts of certain chemical reactions, one of which happens in blue fireworks. The most noted health effect of dioxin exposure is chloracne, a severe skin disease with acne-like lesions mostly on the face and upper body. Dioxin doesn’t stop there, though — the World Health Organization has identified it as a human carcinogen, and it’s also been shown to disrupt hormone production and glucose metabolism.
Barium (green): Fish and other aquatic organisms can accumulate barium, which means it can move up the food chain. The silvery-white metal naturally bonds with other elements to form a variety of compounds that all have different effects — none are known to be carcinogenic, but they can cause gastrointestinal problems and muscular weakness when exposure exceeds EPA drinking water standards. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, breathing trouble, changes in blood pressure, numbness around the face, general muscle weakness and cramps. High levels of barium exposure can lead to changes in heart rhythm, paralysis or death.
Rubidium (purple): This soft, silvery metal is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. It burns purple, melts to a liquid at 104 degrees Fahrenheit and is highly reactive with water, capable of igniting fires even far below the freezing point. It hasn’t been reported to cause any major environmental damage, but it can cause skin irritation since it’s so reactive with moisture, and it’s moderately toxic when ingested, reportedly able to replace calcium in bones.
Cadmium (various): Used to produce a wide range of fireworks colors, this mineral is also a known human carcinogen. Breathing high levels of cadmium can seriously damage the lungs, and consuming it can fluster the stomach, often resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. Long-term exposure can lead to kidney disease, lung damage and fragile bones. Plants, fish and other animals take up cadmium from the environment, meaning that any released into waterways from a fireworks show can be passed up the food chain.
And of course, what goes up has to come down. Fireworks that fall to the ground contain residues of unburnt propellants and colourants, while particle pollution in the air eventually deposits on the ground or gets washed out by rain. Can your water filtration system remove perchlorate or other toxic firework byproducts?