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How Do Fourth of July Fireworks Affect Indoor Air Quality?

Understand how fireworks affect air quality–indoors and out. Learn more about the solutions that exist to keep your indoor air clean.

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Across the United States, approximately 14,000 fireworks shows are happening on the Fourth of July. The biggest displays are in major cities like New York City, Boston, Nashville, Chicago, and Washington D.C. The combination of smoke, ash, sparks and haze from fireworks contributes significantly to air pollution levels.

However, air pollution exposure isn’t the same for everyone. For those with asthma, heart or lung diseases, or another vulnerable demographic–taking precautionary measures can be beneficial. Learn how fireworks affect indoor air quality and the preventative measures you can take to keep your indoor air clean.

How Fireworks Affect Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality

Fireworks are quite literally a series of chemical reactions. Each firework contains various compounds to achieve a specific color, sound, shape and path. In other words, fireworks are a combustion reaction of chemicals, resulting in air pollution.

The particulates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) formed from a combination of smoke and gases is what worsens air quality. These chemicals include aluminum, barium, copper, strontium, antimony, lead and potassium–to name a few. For some areas, poor indoor air quality remains for up to 10 hours and slowly seeps into residential buildings and homes.

In a recent University of Utah study, researchers found that air quality dramatically declined to unhealthy once the fireworks show started. For about three hours after the show, air quality was spiking to the “very unhealthy” range. 

“Even a ‘small’ fireworks show did have a marked impact on indoor air quality,” said Daniel Mendoza, a research assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Utah, of the study’s findings.

Those who suffer from asthma, heart conditions or lung diseases need to be particularly careful around this time. Symptoms from breathing in these pollutants include asthma attacks, heart attacks, shortness of breath, chronic cough and phlegm.

How To Prevent Fireworks Pollution From Affecting Your Space

Fortunately, there are many things homeowners can do to prevent how much fireworks impact indoor air quality overnight. One is a common sense step, and the rest are indoor air quality solutions.   

Close Windows and Doors

First, close windows and doors when there are big fireworks displays. This is probably the easiest way to prevent fireworks air pollution. Instead of letting polluted outdoor air into your home, instead, you should run your HVAC system to keep air circulating inside.  

Filtration

Installing a HEPA (if your home system can handle this level of filtration!) or a high-rated MERV air filter will capture those fine particles circulating in your indoor space. It’s the first line of defense against pollutants that find their way into your home.  

Purification

Equally important, keep your whole-home air purification system running throughout the night. This will actively seek and destroy harmful particulates as they enter your home.  

Mechanical Ventilation

What is mechanical ventilation? Fans, ducts and filters work to bring outdoor air into your home, diluting polluted indoor air. And as outdoor air is brought in, it passes through a high-rated filter. For this reason, upgrading to mechanical ventilation is a helpful way to limit the impact outdoor pollution has on your indoor space.

Central Air Monitor

The first step to take better control of the air you breathe is by monitoring. An in-duct air monitor tracks your entire home for chronic and acute air pollution events. The data is sent to your smartphone, and you can easily track air quality by day, week or month. This helps to better understand what solutions your home needs to breathe cleaner, fresher air.  

Protecting Yourself From Indoor Air Pollution

Even if you love fireworks and regularly attend Independence Day or celebratory fireworks displays, it’s still important to take steps to protect your indoor space from fireworks pollution. The sad reality is fireworks do affect indoor air quality. Whichever air quality solution you pursue, it’ll keep you and your family safe year-round.   

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