Fireworks, particulates, and your health

In my humble opinion, fireworks are really cool. They’re a bright, colorful expression of American patriotism.

Unfortunately, fireworks also create lots of particulate matter. The flashy explosions that create cool patterns in the night sky also leave a lot of dust and particulates that hang around in the air.
The graph below displays the fine particulate matter levels (PM 2.5) at several locations of our CLEAR Network in and around Los Angeles from 6 PM on July 4th to 6 AM on July 5th.

The PM 2.5 levels start rising a little after 8 PM, which is just after sunset. At most locations they come back down to what are essentially background levels by 3 AM, with the exception of the sensor in Arcadia, which sustained high readings through the morning of the 5th.

Regardless of time of day, given these levels, people with chronic respiratory conditions would be wise to stay indoors, which makes us wonder: “Were hospital admissions for asthma, COPD, or any other breathing problems higher than normal last night or this morning?” We would love to partner with a hospital to find out.

A central reason we started the CLEAR Network is so that people can take control of the air they breathe and use the information that the sensors create to reduce their exposure. On its own, however, this isn’t enough. We also need other types of data to inform our decisions. That way we can better inform policymakers of the negative consequences of air pollution and the steps that are needed to address these issues.

Also, just to be clear: CCA is not in any way anti-fireworks. They’re awesome and we want to keep them that way.

If you’d like to join our CLEAR Network or if you are a healthcare provider interested in partnering, please email or call Nick Burant (213-223-6867). We are especially interested in siting monitors in Wilmington and San Pedro.

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