Loud bangs light up the sky followed by an explosion of color , fun shrieks of excitement from spectators down below, and delicious smells of grilling out all combine for the U.S. 4th of July Holiday. As American lockdown measures intensify amid increasing case counts, nightly firework shows and sales have exponentially increased across major cities. Urban centers including: New York City, Boston, and San Francisco have seen a drastic increase in illegal firework usage (+2300% in Boston alone) and noise associated complaints leading up to and following the 244th Independence Day celebration. However, firework usage in densely populated areas is not only a concern due to potential public safety risks, but it also introduces harmful pollutants into the atmosphere and results in overall air quality decline.
Researchers studying the negative health impacts of fireworks set off at the Spring Festival in Northern China noted up to a 20-fold increase in atmospheric concentrations of barium and strontium following firework shows. Firework-associated health impacts, such as respiratory irritation and aggravation of pre-existing pulmonary conditions from increased particulate matter, increased 5 times following firework burning periods. Children were the most affected.
Studies on the threat to environmental quality and public health conclude that stricter fireworks regulations are needed. Regulations of fireworks within the U.S. vary widely by state and they can be challenging to enforce – but there have been increased efforts by companies to create “green” fireworks that limit contributions to air pollution, offering greater public health protections. This might be something to keep in mind when shopping for your next round of fireworks.
Managing Correspondent: Samantha Tracy
Press Articles: “Firework complaints surge in US cities“
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