TTU studying fireworks impact on drinking water

With a $2.5 million EPA grant
Texas Tech studying impact of fireworks on water supplies.
Texas Tech studying impact of fireworks on water supplies.(KCBD Video)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 9:30 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Texas Tech researchers are studying how fireworks could impact human health through our drinking water.

Andrew Jackson, the interim chair of civil, environmental and construction engineering, said Tech is leading the $2.5 million study. He said the goal is to learn if perchlorate, which is found in fireworks, is running off into bodies of water.

“Basically what they were looking for...they want to know and be able to predict if the perchlorate in fireworks are going to impact drinking water sources,” Jackson said.

Professor of Environmental Toxicology Todd Anderson says if a human drinks perchlorate, that chemical can displace iodine in the thyroid which assists with creating proteins, enzyme activity and regulating metabolism.

“We have concerns about whether or not, especially if they’re developing, whether or not their thyroid hormones are going to be okay,” Anderson said.

Texas Tech will be working in the lab and in those bodies of water to determine how much of the chemical is left behind.

“We’ll be going to lakes and rivers where there are large fireworks displays and trying to understand what the perchlorate concentrations are before, during and then after,” Jackson said.

Tech is also studying how long it is staying in the water.

“Bacteria will basically eat it, so how quickly does that occur,” Jackson said.

It’s a three-year project starting this fall. Jackson said it will take time because researchers will go back each Fourth of July and New Year’s Day to check their findings.

“We’re going to repeat some lakes to make sure what we find is repetitive,” Jackson said.

The goal of the study isn’t to ban fireworks. Jackson said it’s to let public water systems know if there is an issue, so they can find ways to mitigate the chemical in the water, to keep everyone having a fun holiday and stay healthy after the celebration.