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In Spain, as in many other countries of the world, a party’s not a party if it does not end with a good firework display. Lights, smoke, whistles, petardeos and colors flooding the sky. Now, however, a team of researchers led by scientists from the School of Medicine of New York University has revealed that the fireworks are not as innocent as they seem .

In fact, emit lead, copper and a wide range of toxins that are used, precisely, to give the fireworks their vibrant colors, but they are able to seriously impair the health, damaging the lungs and the cells of both humans and animals.

The study, recently published in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology, showed harmful levels of lead in two of the twelve types of fireworks most common in the market. And the experiments carried out with rodents as with human tissues showed that pulmonary exposure to the particulate emissions released by five types of fireworks increased significantly the oxidation , a chemical process in the body that can damage or even kill cells if not controlled.

“Although many are careful to protect themselves from the injuries caused by explosions, says Terry Gordon, the principal author of the research – our results suggest that breathing in smoke from fireworks can cause long-term damage, a risk that has been largely ignored”.

air Pollution

Gordon and his team also analyzed 14 years of samples of air quality taken each year in dozens of places in the united States by the Environmental Protection Agency north american. And they discovered that the levels of toxic metals were higher in samples taken close to new year’s Eve and the 4th of July (the date the united States celebrates its Independence than at any other time of the year. In addition to lead, the researchers they found high concentrations of titanium, strontium and copper , substances of common use in the industry of pyrotechnics.

“despite the fact that people are only exposed to these substances for a short period of time each year,” explains Gordon – are much more toxic than the pollutants that we breathe every day.”

this Is the first study that examines the effects of exposure to fireworks of human cells and live animals.

Explosions in the laboratory

During their experiments, the scientists detonated the various types of fireworks available in a chamber of his lab. After they exposed human lung cells and several dozens of mice to particles released by fires. In this way, they discovered that some of these fires were up to ten times more toxic to human cells than their exposure to daily pollution.

Gordon warns that the research is only a first step, since it only addresses the effects of a single exposure to the metals contained in the fireworks.

repeated exposure, however, constitutes a major concern . For this reason, has decided to share their results both with manufacturers such as with health authorities and environmental norteamericans, to warn of the possibility of damages.