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Celebrations throughout the weekend will light up the skies. From public displays to backyard fireworks, the air will be filled with particulate matter. Inhaling these particles can be harmful to your health.

Research has found that the amount of particulate matter increases dramatically around the Fourth of July. Especially for those with certain health conditions, there are steps you should take to avoid them.

Fireworks and air quality.
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What is Particulate Matter?

Particulate matter is a mixture of solid and liquid particles in the air. This particle pollution often consists of smoke, soot, dust, and dirt. Although these particles are in the air year-round, the amount of particulate matters has been shown to increase by as much as 42% due to the number of fireworks lighting up the skies during the Fourth of July celebrations.

Exposure to these particles can be harmful to your health – especially if you suffer from asthma or other conditions that decrease your heart or lung function. People with heart and lung diseases, a well as children and older adults should avoid high levels of particulate matter.

Inhaling too much of this type of pollution in a short period of time can result in difficulty breathing, irregular heart rates, wheezing, and coughing. It can also aggravate asthma symptoms which could result in more serious side-effects.

How to Protect Yourself

With the particles in the air all around you, it can be difficult to avoid them. The particulate matter can stay in the air for a few days after. Meaning, you can’t avoid them by simply staying away from fireworks displays.

For those with asthma, heart, and lung diseases, staying indoors is the safest way to avoid them. Even indoors, particulate levels are higher when outdoor levels are higher. Invest in a good air filter and make use of any room air cleaners throughout the festivities. You should also avoid the use of candles, wood-burning stoves, and fireplaces to reduce these levels in your home – especially this weekend.

If you choose to participate in fireworks displays, the best way to avoid the harmful particles is to position yourself upwind and remain a safe distance away. Take a break from strenuous activities when particle levels are high. During strenuous activities, you breathe heavier – inhaling more of pollutants. Take a break over the weekend and reduce your time outdoors to minimize your risk.

Have a safe and happy fourth of July by following these tips!