AIRE: Atmospheric Information Resource for Educators and students

Fireworks and Air Quality

Happy 4th of July from the AIRE team!  As we head into the holiday weekend, we have received some questions about fireworks and their effect on air quality.  Here is an excerpt from our 2015 post on the topic.  Have a happy and healthy holiday!

Diwali Fireworks, Melbourne, Australia (wikimedia commons)
Diwali Fireworks, Melbourne, Australia (wikimedia commons)

While they are beautiful and festive, fireworks often have a major negative impact on air quality. Concentrations of fine particulate matter skyrocket during and after holidays such as New Year’s, Diwali, or the 4th of July in the US where fireworks displays are prevalent.  The particles generated often contain elevated levels of toxic chemical components such as metals (the same ingredients that give the fireworks their impressive colors).

Fireworks are not a regulated source of air pollution since they only impact air quality a few nights a year in most places.  However, sensitive populations including asthmatics may want to think twice about breathing the smoke created on those festive nights (or at least carry your inhaler when heading out to watch the fireworks this weekend!).

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