July 4th Health Warning: Heavy Smoke in the Valley

July 3, 2008 8:21:39 PM PDT
Health officials are asking you to skip out on fireworks at home and head to some of the larger celebrations to ease the valley's air pollution The Stars and Stripes hang proudly at Kerman High School. David Levy spent Thursday morning, setting up the festival of the "American Spirit Fireworks Show." Some wondered whether the event would be canceled because of extremely dry conditions and heavy pollution. Levy said, "We never considered. We had people asking us if we were going to, but they were happy that we were going ahead." Jaime Holt with the valley's air pollution control district is encouraging people to attend shows like the one at Kerman. Holt said, "Every 4th of July in the evening around 8:00 or 9:00, we see spikes in pollution." Holt said the fire works you light at home just add to the smoke from California's raging wild fires. A combination that's hard on the lungs. Holt said, "Those thousands of little bitty fireworks actually accumulate to be more detrimental to air quality than the one big event."

Despite the warnings, people are still buying fireworks. Mollie Ghinazzi said she's sticking to sparklers-but not for the pollution's sake. Ghinazzi said, "Actually I've had some bad experiences with fireworks before, so I'm trying to be safe this year."

The valley's air is actually expected to improve on July 4. It's predicted to be moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups. But once the fireworks go off, the quality could get worse.