What fireworks do to your air quality on July 4th

Illegal Fireworks Driving You Nuts?
Wait Until You See What They Do to Our Air Quality

LOS ANGELES--(July 1, 2020) -- As the Fourth of July draws near, the sounds of illegal and legal fireworks fill the night, annoying some, scaring pets and triggering those with post-traumatic stress disorder. And while bothersome, the increased presence of fireworks also poses a major threat to air quality and to public health.

How fireworks affect air quality infographic

A recent study by IQAir found that Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. which showed significant spikes in PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter size of 2.5 microns or smaller)on Independence Day and the hours following the holiday. The study compared air quality from July 1st to the 3rd, and then the 5th to the 8th to air quality findings on the Fourth of July from 2016 through 2019. Here are the findings:

  • Las Vegas: 915 percent higher
  • Los Angeles: 452 percent higher
  • New York:394 percent higher
  • Chicago: 387 percent higher
  • Washington D.C.: 317 percent higher

“This is definitely a pattern – the data show air quality going from the acceptable range and rising to unhealthy levels as evening sets in and the night progresses,” said IQAir North America CEO Glory Dolphin Hammes. “With many municipalities having canceled large Independence Day gatherings due to COVID-19, cities will see an uptick in the use of those fireworks in neighborhoods. This could mean more asthma attacks and more people breathing increased levels of toxins as a result.”

Fireworks rely on various chemical reactions to achieve the desired sound, color and size. Most fireworks contain black powder (also known as gun powder), which is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal and potassium nitrate. Colorants can contain strontium, lithium, calcium chloride, sodium, barium, chlorine and other chemicals. These chemicals have been associated with health problems, including reduced lung function, airway inflammation, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, pneumonia and heart attacks.

For those looking for a way to protect themselves and families from fireworks pollution, IQAir recommends the following:

  • Use safe alternatives to traditional fireworks. Adhere to the laws in your municipality. If fireworks are illegal, avoid using them altogether, stay indoors and watch an Independence Day celebration on television. Your neighbors will thank you.
  • Shut your windows and doors. If you’re at home and live close to an area that has regular firework shows, close windows, doors and any other openings in your home right before the fireworks start. Don’t open them again for a few hours, as fireworks pollution can linger and travel many miles for hours after the show ends.
  • Use your heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system to clean your air.Airborne pollutants from fireworks shows can still seep into your home even with everything closed up. Turn on the fan function in your HVAC system to help capture any particulate and gas pollution that gets into your home. An HVAC system can deliver fresh air into your indoor environment and keep your indoor air quality safe.

Tiffany Allegretti, PR Manager
IQAir North America

The number one air cleaning solution for your home.

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