Study: Fireworks linked to short, long-term health effects

WASHINGTON — Although fireworks are a Fourth of July favorite, a nationwide study finds they also pollute the air and could cause breathing problems for some Americans.

The study, published in the Atmospheric Environment journal, measured the effects of fireworks on air quality.

For years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists observed sites across the United States on July 4 and 5, to determine hourly concentrations of fine particulate matter.

“These results will help improve air quality predictions, which currently don’t account for fireworks as a source of air pollution,” says Dian Seidel, author of the study and a scientist at the NOAA.

Short and long-term exposure to air pollutants from fireworks can lead to numerous health issues including:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Asthma
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

The Environmental Protection Agency encourages those who are sensitive to particle pollution to watch the fireworks from a distance.

“We chose the holiday, not to put a damper on celebrations of America’s independence, but because it is the best way to do a nationwide study of the effects of fireworks on air quality,” Seidel says.

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