As most Americans might be readying themselves for countless celebrations across the nation this weekend, a small group will be taking to the air to get a different perspective on the light shows showering our evening skies. A study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has determined that air quality may suffer from the debris from fireworks explosions.
Microscopic particles enter the air from the blasts. This particulate matter is made up of dust, soot, smoke and liquids. When this enters the lungs, it can cause wheezing, coughing, and several other adverse reactions. Asthma sufferers and others with higher health risks are especially prone to inflammation from exposure to the particulate matter.
NOAA studied data obtained on July 4 over many years from 1999 to 2013 from several sites across the nation monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Spikes in particulate matter occurred during the hours of 9 and 10 pm and would typically subside by noon on July 5. This spike in particulate concentration can be as much as 42% more than normal.
The EPA does not currently regulate fireworks, but does recommend that persons with sensitivity to such particulates should avoid exposure. Enjoy your holiday weekend and the lovely displays in the skies–but do it safely, please.
More information is available at research.noaa.gov.