Fireworks Today – Can We Do Better?

Fireworks Today – Can We Do Better?

There's no doubt that large, night-sky-filled fireworks are dramatic and thrilling. From the immense splashes of colors streaking across the sky to the booms of massive explosions that send sparkles in all directions, fireworks have a unique place in people's hearts.

For many, celebrations like 4th of July just feel right if they're capped with dramatic fireworks that get the heart racing. But is that enough? Is the cost too high? Let's see if we can do better.

My Kind of Town: Chicago

The song that Frank Sinatra sang to his beloved Chicago evokes intense feelings of pride and joy. Yet a growing feature of a Chicago summer is when on Independence Day the night sky is also clouded with heavy pollutants from their massive fireworks. Data from last year shows how air pollution from July 4th celebrations raised pollution levels by about 400%, compared to the season's daily average.

Air quality data showed that between 9:00 p.m. and midnight on July 4, 2021, the city recorded the highest pollution levels of any other day that year.

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Where there is smoke – There is heavy metals

According to reporting in The Independent, a study from two years ago revealed how firework explosions can release tiny particles of lead and other metals toxic to human and animal health. Lead toxicity is linked to cardiovascular and neurological issues, especially in children and even wildlife. July 4th fireworks increase particulate matter — these are the PM2.5 levels PurpleAir sensors are designed to measure. As PM2.5 levels increase, air quality decreases. With data gathered from sensors nationwide covering the 24 hours starting from 8:00 p.m. on 4 July last year, PM2.5 concentrations increased by 42%. As can be expected, the largest increases were measured during the hours when fireworks were lit.

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Welcome to the era of going big

There's no doubt that people of all ages love a great celebration, and a big part of that can be a dramatic light and sound show. Many cities around the US have started to rethink their approach to throwing a big celebration, and some cities are using new technology to wow and dazzle audiences.

In Los Angeles, for example, the traditional annual fireworks show was replaced by a highly-choreographed drone show. The reason the city decided to try the drone-flown light show was because of negative factors like fireworks-linked accidents and injuries, high air pollution levels, dramatic increases in accidental wildfires, and stress to animals and people.

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A celebration everyone can cheer

Going drone isn't only for big cities like LA. Even small municipalities like Incline Village Crystal Bay, which overlooks Lake Tahoe, have found that drone shows are a great alternative to the pyrotechnics of fireworks.

Echoing the same concerns and benefits of hiring a drone company to oversee this year's light show celebration, residents have fully embraced the high-tech alternative to the smoke-filled past.

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From the impressive and much-celebrated drone show during this year's Super Bowl show to recent Presidential victory speeches, the time has come to move on from our explosive past. The new era is here, a moment we can all celebrate with a huge sigh of relief.

Worried About Air Quality?

Monitor the Particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map. or join PurpleAir's mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home. 

Together, we can be informed and make changes in our daily habits and the community to improve air quality.