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“Perchlorate’s interference with iodide uptake by the thyroid gland can decrease production of thyroid hormones, which are needed for prenatal and postnatal growth and development, as well as for normal metabolism and mental function in the adult,” CDPH states in its “Health Concerns” section on perchlorate. “Its effects on the thyroid gland are the basis of the 6-µg/L public health goal (PHG) established in 2004 by Cal/EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment,” which is equivalent to 6 parts per billion (ppb).

Such is the public health concern over perchlorate that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to regulate the chemical under the Safe Drinking Water. California EPA’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the department charged with enforcing toxic chemicals, has attempted robust state regulation of perchlorate.

“Perchlorate is becoming a serious threat to human health and water resources,” says DTSC on its perchlorate portal page on its website. “In addition to overseeing the cleanup of sites contaminated with perchlorate, AB 826, the Perchlorate Contamination Prevention Act of 2003, required DTSC to adopt regulations specifying best management practices for perchlorate and perchlorate-containing substances. The Perchlorate Best Management Practices were adopted on December 31, 2005 and became operative on July 1, 2006.”

Yet despite the known threats that perchlorate presents, AEG’s EIR never admits it usage in the fireworks that stadium operators are going to be blasting off in the new Farmers Field. Not only is the perchlorate usage obscured in the EIR, it isn’t weighed up as toxins traditionally are in environmental impact reports, usually in pounds per day and pounds per year.

“It’s important for us to look at perchlorate emissions from fireworks,” says Joe Lyou, head of the Los Angeles-based Coalition for Clean Air in a telephone interview with EnviroReporter.com. “We know that it’s a source for perchlorate. We know that perchlorate has been found to cause public health problems so certainly AEG has not analyzed perchlorate emissions in fireworks. They need to do so.”

HEAVY METAL THUNDER

EnviroReporter.com has also discovered that the only fireworks ingredients that are listed in the EIR are the heavy metal contaminants that are used to color the fireworks: strontium (red), barium (green), copper (blue) and antimony (white and glitter effects). Yet even the numbers for these toxins are suspect: the EIR’s figures for the ‘per day’ and ‘per year’ usage for copper and antimony, respectively, are the same.

Either the EIR is incorrect or Farmers Field plans to only have blue fireworks and white fireworks with glitter effects just one day a year which is highly unlikely. More likely is that the calculations are incorrect. This seems surprising considering the 18 months AEG took to create its $27 million EIR that totals at least 14,759 pages.

“You’ve got to at least have all the primary colors to get to the other colors you use in fireworks,” says Argüello. “I can’t imagine a show that would only use red or only going to use yellow.”

EnviroReporter.com has contacted AEG and provided a requested email outlining questions concerning the fireworks. AEG will be responding to our inquiries according to the company rep. A list of EnviroReporter.com’s questions about the missing information concerning the pyrotechnics was also submitted to the Los Angeles Planning Commission before its meeting.

Farmers Field will be allowed to shoot off fireworks 365 days a year at the stadium from 10:00am to 11:30pm. There will be 15 dedicated fireworks shows a year lasting up to 20 minutes long like on July 4. Other fireworks may accompany the national anthem, football touchdowns or rock concerts like the May 8 video rendering on Farmers Field’s YouTube channel shows. A virtual crowd watches a rock show as fireworks in the video explode around the edge of the giant oval opening in massive blasts above the stadium filling it with smoke.

Color-creating heavy metals revealed to be in the Farmers Field fireworks can impact human health and the environment as well as perchlorate. Barium nitrate, added to fireworks to create that green color, is toxic according to Hazard.com, which says ingestion of the heavy metal “May cause tightness of the muscles of the face and neck, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscular tremors, anxiety, weakness, labored breathing, cardiac irregularity, convulsions, and death from cardiac and respiratory failure.”

Inhalation of barium, according to Hazard.com, “Causes irritation to the respiratory tract. Symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath. Systemic poisoning may occur with symptoms similar to those of ingestion.”

One commenter on the project voiced concern about cadmium in the fireworks. “Used to produce a wide range of fireworks colors, [cadmium] is also a known human carcinogen,” the commenter wrote. “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.”

The closest waterway to the future Farmers Field is the Los Angeles River, a little over two miles to the east. The waterway was recently reaffirmed as being protected by the Clean Water Act.

Copper compounds are used to produce blue colors, even though they produce dioxin, which has been linked to cancer according to a 1999 study by Dr. Robertus Vichman of Braunschweig Technical University in Germany. According to the report, the intense heat generated by the perchlorate in fireworks ignites copper coloring compounds giving off significant amounts of dioxin.

Perchlorate’s use in Farmers Field is particularly troubling not just because its use is obscured and not measured in the EIR let alone mitigated; the chemical has wreaked havoc across California in both its ammonium perchlorate and potassium perchlorate forms. While it’s likely that the potassium perchlorate compound is going to be used in Farmers Field, the EIR’s failure to identify and quantify the amount of perchlorate to be ignited doesn’t provide the opportunity to distinguish the effects of which perchlorate to be utilized.

Regardless, perchlorate’s affects locally, regionally and statewide have been significant. As EnviroReporter.com has previously reported in 2005, perchlorate has polluted more than 330 drinking water sources in California where concentrations of the toxin have exceeded the state’s provisional action-reporting level of 6 ppb. That number has climbed to over 350 now according to the EPA’s Region 9 office which oversees the state.

The San Gabriel Valley is an EPA Superfund Site which is a designation for some of the most contaminated locations in the country. Shorthand for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, Superfund gives wide federal powers to clean up contamination or anticipated hazardous substances at sites and charge the responsible party or parties for the cost. If the responsible party can’t be found, EPA has a special Superfund trust fund to pay for the cleanup.

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10 Comments

  1. Even Phil Anschutz sees his downtown collection of Vegas-type entertainment/sports venues as a liability. So he is selling them. Perhaps LA officials can take a hint.
    The best way to do what you want is to just do it. It is easier to apologize than ask for permission. And so it goes with the toxic fireworks. The less said, the better.

  2. No reason then to continue to use this heavy metal in the fireworks as there are alternatives. However, it begs the question; Why do they insist to continue? Well, there is another rabbit hole to go down starting with the word “Agenda”? Thank you Michael for the great article!

  3. Judging from the dearth of media coverage of this amazing discovery, it appears Collins is right about the press (mainstream and otherwise) being too “enfeebled to expose it.” That won’t, however, make the problem go away even if this dirty secret is swept under the football field. The law is the law. If this plan to use who-knows-how-much perchlorate in the fireworks at Farmers Field is pushed through by the Los Angeles city council without coming to a full-stop by requiring AEG to pony up with the toxic numbers, there could be big trouble. Low income (and high income) residents won’t even know about this stealthy perchlorate plan unless the public and community advocates make a stink about it and demand that the fireworks are pollution free. Surely, the money spent actually becoming the environmental leader in fireworks displays and new technology grand entertainment would cost AEG significantly less money than the cost that could face the company when the wafts of perchlorate and heavy metals begin impacting people from the day the place opens. It costs the city council nothing to stand up for the health and well being of the visitors to Farmers Field and the neighborhoods around it by requiring AEG to release the true ingredients (and amounts) in the fireworks and then demanding that the company go back to the drawing board to make sure that they be made harmless. This would make AEG and the city of LA the leaders in ‘green fireworks’ far more than the happiest kingdom on earth which still uses perchlorate yet touts its less smoky pyrotechnics. We deserve no less. The people fighting this fraudulent environmental impact report deserve no less. They must demand these fundamental changes before it is too late.

  4. Another excellent expose’ by Mr. Collins.

    This explains why I’ve noticed an increase in particulate pollution in air-quality-animated-maps after holidays/occasions where fireworks were used.

    ( Each state’s environmental department should have its own animated map that you can google to find, but here’s one for the U.S. — http://airnow.gov/ )

  5. Interesting how the trolls (Scott S. Smith) are always the first to jump on the truth with their ludicrous, vicious, and psychopathic comments. Anyone want to place bets that HE doesn’t live next to the proposed stadium?

  6. @SS Smith: there is a large body of research on the toxicity of heavy metals from exploded fireworks from within the water quality field. As a result of tested, peer-reviewed scientific evidence, many cities (particularly in the Great Lakes region) have already taken steps to change the types of fireworks used or ban them if non-toxic ones aren’t available. Your rhetoric and insults are infantile and aren’t going to bait anyone to respond in kind. Instead, you are providing a platform for a deeper discussion of the scientific soundness behind Michael’s pieces.

  7. If being a ‘red-blooded’ American means ‘symbols’ are more important than the health of children, then please count me out.

    I am ‘Earthling’ first!

    Borders are imaginary lines.

  8. Every time I read an article on perchlorate use, I’m reminded afresh of how stupid people are. In particular, it’s amazing how anything but profits are ignored by the tools running these large corporations.

  9. @Scott S. Smith – not sure what you are promoting here – if fire works are a symbol of freedom – can’t they also be in a form that would not contain perchlorate and not endanger the health of Americans?

    Michael Collins has done a lot of research and given a rational and in depth account of this problem – name calling has no place in an intelligent conversation on how to protect people’s air and water from a dangerous substance.

    Thank goodness we have Michael who is willing to take the time and energy to investigate yet another threat to the health of the environment and the American people. Why on earth would anyone “put him in jail”? Michael is doing what very few people are doing – watching out for our environment and telling us about what he finds. We are incredibly fortunate to have him in our lives.

  10. No red-blooded American should stand for regulating fireworks of any color–they’re the symbol of freedom and anarchy is one of the founding principles of this country. I think Collins should be deported to whatever socialist country his ancestors claim to be from and he can argue his pinko theories there, if they don’t put him in jail first.

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