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Your Heart and Lungs Might Take Exception to the Belief That Fireworks Are Beautiful

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San Joaquin Valley Air District officials warn that lighting up personal fireworks can harm air quality and public health. (Shutterstock)
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As people celebrate Independence Day, San Joaquin Valley Air District officials are warning about the unhealthy air created by fireworks.

“We are asking Valley residents to be mindful and considerate of their neighbors and the many sensitive individuals whose health may be impacted by the emissions that come from lighting personal fireworks,” said Samir Sheikh, the agency’s executive director said.

How Do Fireworks Affect Valley Air Quality?

Officials say personal fireworks emit high levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) including soot, ash, and metals, which can cause serious health effects.

Instead of heading to the firework stands for packs of personal and individual fireworks, officials advise friends and families to participate in local professional, and community fireworks shows as a safer alternative to celebrate the Fourth of July.

“There are many ways to be patriotic and celebrate our nation’s independence without lighting fireworks,” said Sheikh.

The Fresno-Madera-Hanford metro area is often ranked at the top of the list for the nation’s worst 24-hour particle pollution. This year, the region also ranked among the worst for annual particle pollution and unhealthy ozone levels.

Particle matter can range from 10 micrometers to 2.5 micrometers as small as the size of a single human hair. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

PM2.5 Pollution Can Cause Serious Harm to Public Health

Each year for Fourth of July celebrations, air monitors across the Valley reflect spikes in PM2.5 concentrations from fireworks, often four to five times higher than the health-based federal standard, and typically during evening hours, when personal fireworks are most in use.

Officials say this type of air pollution compromises air quality and public health, and it is especially harmful to older adults, children, and those with respiratory diseases.

Fine particulate matter can invade the bloodstream, get deep into the lungs, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Other symptoms from PM2.5 exposure can present themselves as headaches, fatigue, watery, dry eyes, coughing, wheezing, and throat, lung and sinus irritation —including shortness of breath and asthma attacks.

(San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution District)

Liz Juarez joined GV Wire in July, 2021 as a Digital News Producer. She has experience working for publications around the Central Valley including the Clovis Roundup, Porterville Recorder and Hanford Sentinel. While in college, she interned for Mountain West Athletics and served as Outreach Chair for the Fresno State Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA). Liz earned a bachelor's degree in Media Communications and Journalism at Fresno State and a master's degree in Communications from Arizona State University. In her down time, she enjoys reading, drawing and staying active by playing basketball, taking trips to the coast and visiting national parks. You can contact Liz at liz.juarez@gvwire.com