Valley air district officials warning of air quality dangers with fireworks

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- At Palm and Olive in central Fresno, Jannah Pickett with the 12th Man Foundation is eager to kick off their first-ever fireworks sale.

"We're excited to be here and very visible as well," she said.

The nonprofit is raising money to make sports accessible to inner-city youth. They've teamed up with an AAU program to send 7th and 8th graders to basketball tournaments at no cost.

"There are so many opportunities and so many life lessons that are on the court, on the field and wherever they play and maybe not having the funds deter them from doing that," Pickett said.

Growing concern over fire danger has some nonprofits worried it will impact fundraising efforts, but Pickett says with the state opening back up, she's anticipating even bigger celebrations.

"We're like, we made it through this last year," she said. "So I'm hoping there's a bigger turn out in that and that people are still smart, though."

Sentiments Joseph Zeno shares. He says his family makes sure to have several buckets of water nearby when lighting fireworks.

"Make sure you stay away from dry grass," he said. "Just be safe take all the precautions you need to."

Fire danger is only part of the concern. Valley air district officials are warning residents to limit their time outdoors as particulate matter, or PM 2.5, reaches dangerous levels 4th of July.

"It impacts our breathing, it can get deep into the lungs and increase our risk of heart attack and stroke," Anthony Presto.

Last year, we could see the air quality impacts just by looking at the skyline. But looking at the real-time air advisory network from last year's independence day shows relatively good air quality until the sun set and fireworks were lit.

Particulate matter brought air quality similar to peak wildfire season.

"Level 5 is really unhealthy; we shouldn't be outside at all when we're at a level 5 for air pollution," Presto said.

PM 2.5 is so fine, it can get through normal cloth masks like the ones we've been wearing during the pandemic.

Fitted N95 masks are recommended if you have to be outside.
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