Publications in Scientific Journals:

G. Steinhauser, A. Musilek:
"Do pyrotechnics contain radium?";
Environmental Research Letters, 4 (2009), 034006-1 - 034006-6.

English abstract:
Many pyrotechnic devices contain barium nitrate which is used as an oxidizer and colouring agnet 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 this study, we investigated the occurrence of gamma-photon-emitting radionuclides in several pyrotechnic devices. The highest specific activities were due to K-40 (up to 20 Bq g-1, average value 14 Bq g-1). Radium-226 activities were in the range of 16-260 mBq g-1 (average value 81 mBq g-1). Since no uranium was found in any of the samples, indeed, a slight enrichment of Ra-226 in coloured pyrotechnics can be observed. Radioactive impurities stemming from the Th-232 decay chain were found in many samples as well. In the course of novel developments aiming at the "greening" of pyrotechnics, the potential radioactive hazard should be considered as well.

fireworks; inhalation; natural radioactivity; 238U decay chain; 266Ra; 228Ra

"Official" electronic version of the publication (accessed through its Digital Object Identifier - DOI)

Electronic version of the publication:

Created from the Publication Database of the Vienna University of Technology.