MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Big 4th of July celebrations are coming up but did you know that fireworks have a big impact on air quality. In this breakdown we will discuss the reasons why and ways that may help to keep you safe especially if you have respiratory issues.
Those pyrotechnics that we all love can cause substantial air pollution that happens in a short period of time. It can leave metal particles, harmful toxins and chemicals plus smoke in the air for hours or even days on end.
Some of the toxins emitted in the air by fireworks, never decompose completely. This may cause negative effects on health and may cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, asthma attacks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and can cause heart attacks. People who are at the greatest risk for problems are those with heart conditions, lung disease, and older adults and children.
The particles that we sometimes can see that fall to the ground, can contain propellant chemicals and colorants according to the EPA. These particles can end up in the soil and even our water systems. The materials that are used to make fireworks are mined from mountains. This mining process can be a destructive process that cuts down forests and can destroy wildlife habitats. The rock that is leftover is thrown away into valleys which can block and pollute flowing streams.
The amount of pollutants in the air increased by 42% on average across the U.S. according to studies on the 4th. Air conditions are at their worst between 8 to 10 p.m. on the day of the holiday. The biggest cities saw the highest amounts and some reached levels that were higher than the EPA’s safety threshold.
Here are some things that may help keep you safe.
Watch fireworks shows away from smoke plumes
Keep windows close especially children several nights after firework displays
EPA advises children and the elderly, along with people with heart disease, asthma and other lung diseases, to consider watching upwind from fireworks
If you can, purchase fireworks that are carbon neutral
Try to offset pollution by riding your bike or carpooling to fireworks shows