Americans’ fervor for Fourth of July fireworks has some unfortunate side effects.
There’s a jump in fires, gruesome injuries and runaway pets spooked by the noise.
But there’s also a more widespread hazard from the yearly outburst of pyrotechnics: It spikes air pollution so sharply it becomes dangerous for everyone to breathe.
Independence Day and July 5 consistently have some of the worst air quality of the year. With so many fireworks going off at once, levels of fine-particle pollution — a stew of tiny, lung-damaging specks of toxic soot, smoke and ash known as PM2.5 — surge several times higher than federal health standards across Southern California, air monitoring data show.
Pollution levels jump sharply around 8 or 9 p.m. the evening of the Fourth of July, around when it gets dark, reaching their peak late in the night. The unhealthy pall hangs in the still, nighttime air and lingers through the following morning — a kind of hazy hangover from the night’s revelry.
In downtown Los Angeles last year, fine particle pollution jumped above 300 micrograms per cubic meter — more than eight times the daily average health standard of 35 — and remained elevated through the following morning.
Some authorities say pollution is yet another reason people should opt for professional pyrotechnics displays and not add to the problem by setting off their own personal fireworks, which are illegal in many communities, including the City of Los Angeles.
“We’re not telling people to not have fireworks or anything, but we do want to let people know that there’s usually a heightened health impact starting in the evening of the Fourth and into the morning of the 5th,” authoritites say.
Via LA Times