Drifting fireworks smoke can cause breathing problems for some sensitive people.
“If your family or friends suffer from asthma or respiratory difficulties, it’s important for them to stay upwind, a safe distance from fireworks smoke,” said Brian Hutchins, Iowa Department of Natural Resources air quality supervisor. “The elderly and children are also vulnerable to higher levels of smoke.”
Sensitive people are most likely to have trouble breathing when air is stagnant. With no breeze, fine particles can be trapped near the ground and build to unhealthy levels.
Smoke contains fine particles and gases, which can be hard on the lungs. Fine particles in fireworks’ smoke are produced from black powder used to shoot fireworks skyward along with the metals that produce brilliant colors.
Those unable to avoid areas of dense smoke should limit outdoor activity and contact their health care provider if they experience problems.
In 2017, Fourth of July fireworks in Des Moines gave rise to fine particle levels that exceeded national standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Learn more about fine particles (PM2.5) and how fireworks displays can affect sensitive populations at at www.iowadnr.gov/Environmental-Protection/Air-Quality/Air.