Sep 2, 2009
Do pyrotechnics contain radium?
Many pyrotechnic devices contain barium nitrate which is used as an oxidizer and colouring agent primarily for green-coloured fireworks. Similarly, strontium nitrate is used for red-coloured pyrotechnic effects. Due to their chemical similarities to radium, barium and strontium ores can accumulate radium, causing a remarkable activity in these minerals.
Radium in such contaminated raw materials can be processed together with the barium or strontium, unless extensive purification of the ores was undertaken. For example, the utilization of 'radiobarite' for the production of pyrotechnic ingredients can therefore cause atmospheric pollution with radium aerosols when the firework is displayed, resulting in negative health effects upon inhalation of these aerosols.
In the course of novel developments aiming at the 'greening' of pyrotechnics, the potential radioactive hazard should be considered as well.
Continue reading this ERL letter: Georg Steinhauser et al 2009 Environ. Res. Lett. 4 034006
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