AIRE: Atmospheric Information Resource for Educators and students

Happy New Year from AIRE!: Fireworks and Air Pollution

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

We here at AIRE wish you a happy and healthy 2016!  The new year is greeted in many parts of the world with fireworks: both large, spectacular shows and on smaller scales at home, on the beach, in the street, etc.  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 that New Year’s Eve party!).

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