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Fireworks can lead to health concerns for some, local experts say

Fireworks leave behind particulate matter
Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 20:11:02-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — While fireworks are enjoyable and pretty to look at, they can be harmful to the environment. Meteorologists say fireworks can cause air pollution due to smoke, pieces of wood and gun powder ending up in the atmosphere.

"Whenever something blows up it’ll leave smaller particles in the air that move around in the wind and fireworks act in a similar way to wildfire smoke so we keep track of them in a very similar way," Dirk Petersen, a meteorologist with National Weather Service Omaha, said. "Depending on how big those pieces are will mean that they get further and further into your body if you breathe it in where they can get into your lungs."

The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) did release a statement prior to the 4th of July to warn people of the possible harmful effects.

"The Douglas County Health Department warns that some individuals who are sensitive to air pollution may experience health concerns during or after the July 4th holiday, due to high levels of smoke resulting from the use of fireworks," the statement read. "It may cause breathing difficulties for individuals with asthma and other heart or lung diseases, the elderly, very young children and pregnant women."

The high amount of fireworks set off over the holiday resulted in a rise of smoke in the air and because of how dry the air has been lately, wind can easily move those particles around. Petersen said the worst of it occurs overnight.

"At night you have a shorter layer of air that stuff gets trapped and smoke a lot of times gets trapped in that category where it doesn’t get high enough where it can get past the layer where everything stays overnight. Now that we’ve had some sunlight that layer gets taller and taller throughout the day where you can get wind air and smoke in general can move around," Petersen said.

The (DCHD) said most of the air pollution that occurred as a result of the Independence Day fireworks should be gone by midday Monday.

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