Archive for July 5th, 2011

Date: 05 Jul 2011 15:03:44 -0000
From: “Acintya Deva”
To: am-global@earthlink.net
Subject: Deadly Practice



Fireworks and firecrackers – those loud and colorful bombs that explode in the air – have become popular ways to celebrate various holidays such as the Chinese New Year, USA Independence Day, Islamic Eid and so many other occasions around the globe.

Some have also dragged this custom of shooting off fireworks into our Marga as well. A link to the letter about that is also appended below.

Unfortunately, this way of merriment and celebration is not at all healthy. It is not good for the earth and the environment, nor is it good for our human species, not to mention all the animals and plants. Fireworks are dangerous and deadly.

The articles appended below examine both the environmental hazards and health issues related with fireworks. Should we really be celebrating in ways which pollute the air, land, and sea? Should we really be celebrating in ways which release deadly toxins into the environment. Should we really be celebrating in ways which threaten our human vitality and well-being? Should we really be celebrating in ways which threaten our human safety.

In addition to the environmental articles appended below, there is also a human interest story wherein one male athlete and strongman lost his entire arm just yesterday when shooting off fireworks. He was nearly killed. And indeed so many have been killed with fireworks. In this instance the gentleman will live the rest of his life without one of his arms – a real tragedy.

All in all this is a dangerous – even deadly – activity which leads to so much destruction. Is it not ironic that people shoot off fireworks as a ways to celebrate a seemingly honoured day.

Even worse is that now this poor practice has been dragged into our Marga.

The below articles provide ample impetus to choose another way of celebration than fireworks.


Are fireworks bad for the environment?
Fireworks can unleash a shower of toxins into soil and water, and scientists are only beginning to figure out what that means for human health.
…Here’s a look at what’s in fireworks, how they might affect people:

Perchlorates and particulates
For fireworks and other pyrotechnics to blow up, they need to blow up something — usually a blend of charcoal and sulfur fuel. They also need an ingredient that can inject oxygen to speed up the explosion, historically relying on potassium nitrate. These three chemicals are mixed together into a sooty substance known as gunpowder.

When a spark hits gunpowder, the potassium nitrate feeds oxygen to the fire, helping it quickly burn the charcoal-sulfur fuel. This produces volumes of hot, rapidly expanding solids and gases that can be used to fire a bullet, explode an artillery shell or launch a Roman candle.

The original blends of black powder can be a bit too unstable and messy for some uses, though, so the potassium nitrate is often replaced by perchlorates, a family of chemicals all featuring a central chlorine atom bonded by four oxygen atoms. Two types in particular — potassium perchlorate and ammonium perchlorate — have become the go-to oxidizers of the pyrotechnics industry.

Perchlorates may have introduced a new problem, though: In high enough doses, they limit the human thyroid gland’s ability to take iodine from the bloodstream, potentially resulting in hypothyroidism. The thyroid needs iodine to make hormones that control a variety of body functions, and people running too low on these hormones can develop a wide range of disorders. Children, infants and especially fetuses suffer the worst from hypothyroidism, since thyroid hormones are crucial for normal growth. Perchlorates have also been shown to cause thyroid cancer in rats and mice.

A 2007 study of an Oklahoma lake following fireworks displays overhead found that perchlorate levels spiked more than 1,000 times above the baseline level for 14 hours after a show. While the maximum concentration detected was 44.2 micrograms — less than 1 milligram — per liter, the study was still the most concrete evidence yet that fireworks release perchlorates into waterways.

Another study by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection found perchlorate levels up to 62 micrograms per liter at eight groundwater-monitoring wells on the Dartmouth campus, near where fireworks are regularly fired.

The smoke from fireworks’ burned charcoal and sulfur fuel also contains particulate matter that can get lodged in people’s lungs, an immediate danger for those with asthma or chemical sensitivities. Prolonged exposure to similar airborne particles from diesel exhaust has also been shown to cause lung cancer. Air-quality monitors reportedly spike for about three hours after a fireworks show.

Metallic compounds
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, is extremely reactive with both air and water, and can be radioactive. Some strontium compounds dissolve in water, and others move deep into soil and groundwater; radioactive strontium has a half-life of 29 years. While low levels of stable and radioactive strontium haven’t been shown to affect human health, they both can be dangerous at high doses. Radioactive strontium can damage bone marrow, cause anemia and prevent blood from clotting correctly, and lab studies have shown it can lead to birth defects in animals. Stable strontium is mainly a threat to children because it can impair their bone growth.

• Aluminum (white): It can affect 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 and aren’t intentionally produced anywhere; they only exist as 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 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 (PDF).

• 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.

Burning firecrackers brings environmental hazards. First of all, when a firecracker is burst, it emits harmful gases which are bad for our environment. It is pretty much the same case with open burning whereby greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide is released. Thus, burning firecrackers causes green house effect and global warming. Besides, firecrackers produce smoke and dust that may contain residues of poisonous chemical substances such as barium, copper, cadmium, antimony, lithium, lead, potassium, sulfur and many more. Some of these substances are present to create certain effect when the firecrackers are lit. These chemical substances are proved to be very harmful for the human body and can cause respiratory problems as well as many other health issues. The debris after the firecracker burning, if let run free into water systems, can bring harms to marine lives. Not to forget is the noise pollution caused by loud bangs when firecrackers are lit. The noise can be irritatingly disturbing and causes mental disorder in some people. There are other hazards associated in burning firecrackers such as physical injuries, insomnia and mental stress.

Fireworks fun on the Fourth of July (2011) didn’t end well for Eric Smith, 36, who was hosting a party at his Long Island, New York home when his arm was blown off while he was setting off illegal fireworks for his friends and family. He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance with his severed arm packed on ice. Doctors could not reattach the limb.

Smith’s arm was detached at the shoulder from the Fourth of July accident. Smith’s grandfather said, “His arm is gone. It’s not going to be attached.”

Illegal Fourth of July fireworks can be extremely dangerous. It was a mortar bomb firework that exploded out of a three foot metal launching pipe, that ripped off Smith’s left arm at the shoulder. Neighbors said the blast shook houses and set off car alarms. When Smith lit the skyrocket off, he failed to get out of the way quickly enough. Smith’s friend and co-worker at the Long Island Rail Road, Simon Hick stated, “He lit the fuse, and it was ‘Boom! Boom!’ and he was [lying] in the street. That’s how fast it happened.”
One neighbor spent his Fourth of July evening holding Smith while applying pressure to his torso. This was done in an attempt to try to control the bleeding while they waited for the ambulance to come. Other neighbors quickly packed the severed arm in a cooler on ice, hoping to save it for the doctors to be able to reattach it. According to a spokesperson from the Nassau University Medical Center, unfortunately, doctors could not reattach the limb as they said it suffered too much damage in the fireworks blast. It was a long, agonizing wait for medical attention last night and although Smith remains in a stable condition, but without his arm.

The Fourth of July in 2010 is definitely a day that Smith will not forget. Smith is a father of two and a former football star at Lindenhurst High School on Long Island. He also inspects train cars for the LIRR now for a living and is known for his renowned weightlifting ability. His life is surely changed now.

Facts on Injuries from Fireworks in the United States
Most injuries and deaths from fireworks in the United States (66%) occur around the 4th of July holiday.

In the United States in 2002, 8,800 people were treated in emergency departments for fireworks-related injuries. Many people died from these injuries. Fifty percent of fireworks injuries occurred among children 14 years and younger. Seventy-five percent of fireworks injuries occurred among boys as compared to 25% among girls. More than half of the injuries (66%) involved burns; the hands and fingers (32%), eyes (21%), and the head and face (17%) were the parts of the body most frequently injured.

Most injuries occur with Class C or Consumer Fireworks. The type of firework that seems the most harmless but actually causes the greatest number of injuries is the sparkler. It’s temperature can reach up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.


This below letter describes how fireworks have become a key form of celebration in certain Marga events. Please click on the below link and read that letter.


Read Full Post »