Valley experts warn about health issues from 4th of July fireworks

Experts say there are many ways to be patriotic and celebrate without lighting your own fireworks.

Brittany Jacob Image
Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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Fireworks may be fun for families to watch but they also can be bad for your health – by creating unhealthy air quality.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Celebrating Independence Day can come with a price.

Air District Officials want to remind you to monitor particular matter pollution and celebrate the holiday safely.

The 4th of July will be packed with fun-filled celebrations across the Valley - including the spectacular and elaborate displays that will light up the sky.

That's why Air District officials are cautioning residents of the dangerous particular matter or PM 2.5 that the fireworks emit.

"When we hear fireworks season, the first thing we think is education. Making sure the public knows the impacts of breathing fine particulate matter," says Heather Heinks with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

An impact that's microscopic.

Officials say the matter is so small, it can invade the bloodstream, get deep into the lungs, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Exposure to PM 2.5 can trigger health issues, especially for small children, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory conditions.

Heinks says even a healthy person who does not have respiratory conditions might not feel so well after the holidays.

Every Independence Day, air monitors reflect spikes sometimes nearly five times higher than the health-based federal standard.

"Pollution is generally off the chart or at the top of the chart," says Heinks.

Heinks says there are many ways to be patriotic and celebrate without lighting your own fireworks.

"We would encourage you to see a professional show - those go aloft up into the atmosphere and there's time for you to retreat home before that settles and hits the monitors."

There are many local options for big shows, including Freedom Fest, produced by the Clovis Kiwanis Club for more than 30 years.

"I'm encouraging people to come out, come in, enjoy it, bring the kids, bring everyone and let's just get back to life the way it used to be," says Eddie DeLeon, the director of Clovis Kiwanis Club Freedom Fest.

Organizers are calling it the biggest fireworks show in the Central Valley.

Their big bang of a production will last about 20 minutes.

DeLeon says he believes it's also safer than using personal fireworks.

"If I had a thousand people blowing off a thousand fireworks in their front yard, you'd have a thousand of explosions of smoke and debris verus a thousand peple in my place for just 20 min, there's a lot less smoke and debris."

The air district also encourages residents to celebrate at home with an outdoor movie night, silly string, glow sticks, or laser lights.