What’s an Independence Day celebration without fireworks? Turns out a Fourth of July without fireworks, would be a Fourth of July free from extra air pollution. Fireworks displays, as it turns out, significantly increase air pollution. You can smell fireworks in the air, but many people don’t realize that that familiar smell of fireworks is polluting their lungs.
A new study, which was featured in the journal Atmospheric Environment, claims that fireworks from Fourth of July celebrations directly cause an average of a 42 percent rise in air pollution. There is a rise in fine particulate matter, called “PM2.5,” in the evening on Independence Day in the United States and on July 5 every year. The particles that the researchers are concerned with are 2.5 micrometer in diameter and smaller, and they are a big health concern, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Particle pollution — especially fine particles — contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems.”
The EPA says that exposure to air pollution from the fine particles, like those released during fireworks displays, increase risks of heart attacks, lung conditions, and stroke. More often, fireworks increase the incidences of irregular heartbeat, increased asthma attacks, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms.
— ❈KK❈ (@kaitlin_monica) July 5, 2015
When u just tryna watch fireworks but u have an asthma attack
— cool (@abstinentdog) July 5, 2015
welp. tried the whole “outside” thing w/ my kids for fireworks. son had an asthma attack. back home, watching Kung-Fu Panda instead.
— Derick Bailey (@derickbailey) July 5, 2015
“We chose the holiday, not to put a damper on celebrations of America’s independence, but because it is the best way to do a nationwide study of the effects of fireworks on air quality,” Dian J. Seidel, of NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory, explained. “These results will help improve air quality predictions, which currently don’t account for fireworks as a source of air pollution. The study is also another wake-up call for those who may be particularly sensitive to the effects of fine particulate matter.”
The EPA doesn’t regulate fireworks, according to Medical News Today, but the EPA does have a 24-hour limit on PM2.5 concentrations higher than 35 mcg per cubic meter. In one monitored fireworks site, the PM2.5 concentration was so bad on the Fourth of July that it was about 370 percent more polluted than normal, far exceeding the tolerable level of air pollution for healthy breathing.
[Photo via Pixabay]