Some consumer fireworks emit high levels of lead and other toxins, a new study finds

Employees ring up customer purchases at Hee Haw Fireworks in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, on Wednesday, June 30, 2020.

(CNN)When it comes to fireworks safety, parents may warn kids to avoid getting too close.

What families may not realize, however, is that there are other health risks associated with setting off fireworks. In fact, some American consumer fireworks release toxins that are harmful for both humans and animals, according to a new study in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology on Wednesday.
The study analyzed 12 different retail fireworks and found that once set off, five of them released particle emissions that could damage human cells and animal lungs.
    Consumers tend to forget about the toxins that are released, said Terry Gordon, study author and professor in the department of environmental medicine at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine.
    "You or your family is setting off a ton of fireworks, and you're doing it safely as far as physical injury is concerned, but people ignore that they're inhaling high levels of toxic metals," Gordon said.
    The toxins come from the different metals in the fireworks that make them turn different colors, according to the study. For example, the study said that blue fireworks can be made of copper and red fireworks can contain strontium.
    Gordon said that his study did not analyze if certain colors released more toxic metals than others. However, certain types of firecrackers had lower toxicity levels. "The firecrackers had very very high levels of aluminum," Gordon said. "As far as toxicity, they were very low."

    Emission of lead

    His experiment consisted of setting off consumer fireworks in a stainless-steel chamber, filtering the particles with a pump, then exposing human cells and mice to the particles.
    During his research, Gordon said he found that two of the fireworks emitted lead particles. One of them was 10 times more damaging compared to the control in the experiment, according to the study.
    Gordon said that the firework emitted lead particles at 40,000 parts per million, which is exceedingly high. Normally, lead should not be emitted at all, he said.