I know they look awesome and most of the times they’re amazing to watch, but that does not make them safe. Beware, there is such a thing as 4th of July fireworks pollution hazard, and it should not be ignored.
Of course, aside from the big danger of the four letter word in the beginning of the word (i.e. fire), fireworks also carry with them other nasty consequences. Scientists warn that the pollution caused by firework smoke is no small problem. In fact, there is one big issue: the filling of the air with airborne microscopic particles, also known as particle pollution.
A study conducted between 1999 and 2013 that focused on 315 paces throughout the States found this a greater problem than was initially believed. Consequently, the World Health Organization warned that several categories of people were especially in danger. Unsurprisingly, those are elders, people with preexistent heart or lung diseases, asthmatic people. These categories run the risk of respiratory and/or cardiovascular problems. To this list they also added children which are particularly sensible to unclean air.
The results of the study were quite worrying: a staggering 400 percent increase in particle density between eight and ten PM on July 4th. By noon July 5th, the levels had returned to normal, yet that is only a general value. There are distinct locations which had a much larger number of fireworks.
At one specific location, the average 24 hour concentrations (starting at eight PM on July 4th) were 42 percent greater than on preceding or following days. The study published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that at the same location, particle concentration rose by 370 percent on the 24 hour timeframe.
The particles measured were particulate matter no more than two and a half millimeters across – that’s one thirtieth of the width of a human hair follicle – unimaginably small, and incredibly dangerous, the scientists warned. These pieces of dust, ash, powder are, as you can imagine, very easy to inhale, after which they get stuck inside the lungs. Once there, the damage caused to lungs, blood vessels, and to the heart can be massive.
So, as a conclusion to this study, researchers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warn people mentioned in the categories above to limit their exposure by staying upwind from the show and to always carry their medication with them (in the case of asthma, for example). But, so as to not spoil the fun and cause mass delirium, they also wish that people “enjoy the local fireworks displays.”
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