As spectacular as fireworks can be, the fine particles in smoke from fireworks can cause breathing problems for some if the air is stagnant. During these conditions, fine particles can be trapped near the ground and build to unhealthful levels. An air pollution monitor in Davenport recorded unhealthful levels of fine particles after Fourth of July fireworks in 2008.
Asthmatics, those with respiratory difficulties, the elderly, children, and pregnant women are the groups most likely to suffer adverse health effects from breathing heavy smoke from fireworks. Smoke from fireworks contains fine particles and gases. These pollutants can be hard on the lungs and are produced from the black powder used to propel fireworks into the sky and the metals used to produce brilliant colored explosions.
The Department of Natural Resources encourages individuals who could be adversely impacted by smoke from fireworks to view displays from a safe distance and from an upwind vantage point. Those unable to avoid areas of dense smoke should limit outdoor activity and contact their health care provider if they experience difficulty breathing. For more information about the fine particle pollution in fireworks go to the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov and look under Environmental, Air Quality and Fireworks Displays.