The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) conducted a study at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) campus to evaluate the potential release of perchlorate to the environment as a result of a typical "community-type" fireworks display.  This site was selected because of an 11-year history of fireworks displays at this location, the presumed lack of other sources of perchlorate-releasing materials and activities, and because of the excellent cooperation and assistance of campus officials.

Eight shallow groundwater-monitoring wells were installed proximate to and immediately downgradient of the fireworks display area.  A series of groundwater samples were obtained before and after a launch event in September 2004, together with a limited number of surficial soil samples.  Data from these efforts were used to further evaluate site conditions via the use of the coupled fate and transport computer models SESOIL/AT123D.

A maximum concentration of 560 micrograms per kilogram (ug/kg, which is equal to parts per billion or ppb) perchlorate was found to exist in surficial soil in the fireworks launch area in the hours that followed the September 2004 display.  Ten groundwater-monitoring sampling events have been conducted from June 2004 through July 2006 using eight shallow wells.  The concentrations of perchlorate in the groundwater were found to range from not detected (ND) to a high of 62.2 micrograms per liter (ug/L, which is equal to parts per billion or ppb), with the highest values measured before the September 2004 display.

Based on field investigations conducted since 2004, it appears that 11 years of fireworks displays have resulted in perchlorate contamination in soil and groundwater at the Perchlorate Study Area.  These conclusions are consistent with fate and transport modeling results for this area.

Report: Perchlorate Contamination at a Fireworks Display in Dartmouth, Massachusetts pdf format of Dartmouth Perchlorate Report file size 1MB doc format of Dartmouth Perchlorate Report file size 2MB

Report Appendices: Perchlorate Contamination at a Fireworks Display in Dartmouth, Massachusetts pdf format of Appendices: Dartmouth Perchlorate Report doc format of Appendices: Dartmouth Perchlorate Report

A collection of MassDEP information on perchlorate , including a report summarizing the occurrence and sources of perchlorate found to date in Massachusetts.

For more information, contact: Rose Knox (617-556-1026, rosemary.knox@state.ma.us)