Fireworks smoke worries health officials

jdodge@theolympian.comJune 28, 2013 

The Lakefair fireworks blast over Capitol Lake in Olympia on Sunday, July 20, 2008. (Tony Overman/The Olympian)

TONY OVERMAN — The Olympian

Fireworks displays ranging from professional shows to family events have something in common — they can produce unhealthy amounts of smoke.

The fine particles in fireworks smoke contain an abundance of metals and chemicals that can make it more toxic than other forms of smoke, state Department of Ecology officials warned in advance of July 4 celebrations.

Breathing fine particles in fireworks smoke can cause or contribute to a variety of serious short-term or long-term health problems. They include lung inflammation, increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks, and reduced lung function.

Clean air agencies in the Puget Sound region have documented significant spikes in air pollution during and immediately after fireworks shows and displays.

The air monitoring station in Lacey typically shows concentrations of small particles of smoke three to four times above the limit that triggers burn bans in the winter, Olympic Region Clean Air Agency monitoring specialist Mark Moore said.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency last July 4 recorded air pollution levels in Marysville up to 20 times greater than the burn ban trigger.

Officials recommend that people with heart and respiratory problems avoid areas of heavy fireworks smoke. People who are especially sensitive should stay indoors with the windows closed.

jdodge@theolympian.com

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