WASHINGTON (CBS DC)– Fourth of July fireworks spark a temporary 42 percent average increase in air pollution, a new study finds.
The NOAA study looked at concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) at over 300 US air quality monitoring stations between the years of 1999 and 2013, are reported by The Washington Post. There are over 14,000 firework shows every July 4 across America, but they do not go without their toxic consequences.
Researchers analyzed PM2.5 concentrations on July 4 and compared the data to days before and after the sparkling displays. The study found that concentration levels peaked at more than twice their average between 9-10 p.m. on July 4 and didn’t drop to background levels until July 5 around 12 p.m.
The average PM2.5 concentration was about 40 percent higher than average on July 4 at one of the observing sites in Washington, D.C. When looking at the time slot from 8 to 10 p.m. the levels surged by over 400 percent.
The D.C. site pales in comparison when looking at a site in Ogden, Utah. PM.25 levels increased the average by 370 percent on July 4 and at 10 p.m. levels increased by over 3700 percent.
“The study is… another wake up call for those who may be particularly sensitive to the effects of fine particulate matter,” Dian Seidel, study lead author, told Washington Post.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that exposure to the fine particles may even have a significant link to premature death from heart or lung disease as they are known to provoke respiratory problems like asthma.
“While the EPA does not regulate fireworks, the agency does recommend that people who are considered sensitive to particle pollution try to limit their exposure by watching fireworks from upwind – or as far away as possible. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and be sure to have their quick relief medicine handy,” the NOAA study notes.