It is sad and tragic when a respected publication like National Geographic, a national institution, sacrifices its historical reputation and current creditability to promote junk science and a political narrative.
Questionable “science” to support a political narrative...
It appears that the progressive communist democrats want to limit any public or private display of patriotism on the 4th of July and use “science” to justify restrictive public policies.
(Excerpts) from “The hidden toll of July Fourth fireworks.”
It’s no secret that fireworks can cause some serious air pollution, in the United States as well as in other countries where holiday displays are common, like China and India. But not everyone is equally at risk from the noxious particles that suffuse the sky during our pyrotechnic light shows. In California, for example, vulnerable populations are more exposed to fireworks pollution on the Fourth of July.
That’s according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health on air pollution exposure across the state due to Independence Day fireworks. At its peak, the smoke from these events can be comparable to that from wildfires, the study found. The authors also showed that fireworks smoke may be creating an additional—albeit short term—health risk for communities already disproportionately burdened by air pollution: Urban ones with higher rates of asthma, more older residents, and a greater percentage of children under 10. These areas also tended to have more Black and Hispanic residents than those with less Fourth of July air pollution.
The high-risk communities identified in the study have “perpetual exposure to hazardous environmental toxins,” says Aisha Dickerson, an environmental epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University who wasn’t involved with the paper. “This aggravates an already prevalent and persistent issue.”
Where there’s fire, there’s smoke.
Fireworks don’t just produce colorful, crackling light displays: They also create puffs of smoke. What’s less widely known is that the smoke can be dangerous. Fireworks smoke includes particulate matter—an asthma trigger and a leading contributor to respiratory disease—as well as a cocktail of toxic metals like strontium, barium, and lead.
And while the pollution from a single fireworks display tends to dissipate quickly, many fireworks being set off over the Fourth of July can cause regional air pollution levels to spike and remain elevated for several days, posing a potentially serious health risk to vulnerable populations.
For the new study, the UC Irvine-based team of researchers took advantage of the recent proliferation of home air-quality monitors to explore how Fourth of July fireworks pollution varies across communities in California. The scientists analyzed publicly crowdsourced data from 751 commercial PurpleAir sensors in private residences across the state during June and July of 2019 and 2020.
In both years, the team looked at county and census district-level patterns in fine, inhalable particles less than 2.5 micrometers across, called PM2.5. To determine whether certain populations are more exposed to this pollution, the researchers compared the 2019 results with state-reported data on racial demographics, socioeconomic status, health indicators, and more.
The researchers found that Fourth of July fireworks pollution, although transient, can be significant. In Orange County, hourly levels of PM2.5 rose up to three times higher than normal on July 4, 2019, while Los Angeles County pollution levels soared up to 10 times higher than average on July 4, 2020. The festivities in the L.A. metro area last year produced as much smoke as a moderate wildfire.
Vulnerable populations appear to be more exposed to this pollution: On average, the authors found that PM2.5 spikes around the Fourth of July were higher in urban census tracts in Southern California, areas that tend to have higher asthma rates, more older individuals and small children, and more Black and Hispanic residents, compared with rural census tracts and those further north. Southern California metropolitan areas also tend to have fewer restrictions on municipal fireworks shows and looser oversight of at-home fireworks use compared with their counterparts in Northern California.
“L.A. has less stringent policies regarding bigger fireworks shows and purchases by residents,” says Jun Wu, a professor of public health at UC Irvine and the senior author on the study.
Dickerson says she’d expect to see a similar pattern of exposure to fireworks-related air pollutants elsewhere around the country.
“A lot of the fireworks displays typically happen in the bigger cities, especially along coastal communities, and lower income [minority] communities typically are closer to those ports,” she says.
The consequences of poor enforcement of fireworks regulations were laid bare last Fourth of July, when the cancellation of municipal fireworks displays due to the coronavirus pandemic prompted many people to purchase online and shoot off illegal fireworks, including bottle rockets and aerial shells at home. (In California, only non-aerial fireworks like sparklers are allowed for at-home use.) As a result, fireworks pollution was elevated across California in 2020 compared with 2019. Considering the established link between air pollution and more severe COVID-19 outcomes, Wu says last year’s pyrotechnics might have worsened the pandemic.
She’s expecting this Fourth of July to also feature higher levels of at-home, illegal fireworks activity, noting that in her neighborhood, she’s been hearing telltale explosions for the last few days. Elsewhere in the state, residents have been complaining to authorities about fireworks noise for weeks, according to the New York Times.
Compounding the risks of fireworks this year, much of the West is currently in the grips of a historic drought, while the Pacific Northwest and parts of Canada are emerging from a record heat wave. These conditions have primed the West for wildfires—and each year, Fourth of July fireworks celebrations are one of the most predictable sources of ignition. Wildfires also produce dangerous smoke, notes Michael Kleinman, an air pollution researcher at UC Irvine who wasn’t involved with the paper.
“While these [wildfire smoke] spikes are not as intense as the fireworks spikes, they now occur nearly year-round,” Kleinman wrote in an email. “These can in turn elicit increased incidences of severe health effects for sensitive or susceptible individuals.”
Given all the risks, Wu suggests it’s time for city and local governments to more aggressively crack down on illegal fireworks—something several California cities are attempting to do this year—and consider shifting to other types of public displays, such as drone light shows. Individuals susceptible to air pollution can limit their exposure on the Fourth of July by wearing masks or watching the show from indoors, Wu says.
Dickerson agrees that masks are a “reasonable and feasible public health measure.”
“Wearing a mask is not this foreign concept anymore,” she says.
Background: “PurpleAir uses laser particle counters to count suspended 2.5 micron-sized particles in the atmosphere. The particle counts are processed using a complex algorithm to calculate the PM2.5 mass concentration in ug/m3. The sensors come factory calibrated. The cost of a PurpleAir sensor ranges from $200 to $250 and is unlikely to be purchased by minorities or other individuals in lower socio-economic strata.
The greatest issue with studies of this type is that correlation does not equate to causation. That is, observing a phenomenon within the boundaries of known medical conditions proves nothing as the study is uncontrolled for the severity of individual conditions, pre-existing medical issues, and any underlying co-morbidities.
This does not stop individuals and organizations from using junk science to promote their narratives. Consider the hypothesis that the number of heart attacks might increase due to smoke on the 4th of July. Yes, it is a real media story -- “Can smoke from fireworks lead to a stroke or heart attack?? | VERIFY.” However, this is just another generalized correlation between heart attacks and particulate matter that is meaningless.
The authors note the actual limitations in the study…
Abstract: Fireworks are often used in celebration, causing short term, extremely high particulate matter air pollution. In recent years, the rapid development and expansion of low-cost air quality sensors by companies such as PurpleAir has enabled an understanding of air pollution at a much higher spatiotemporal resolution compared to traditional monitoring networks.
In this study, real-time PM2.5 measurements from 751 PurpleAir sensors operating from June to July in 2019 and 2020 were used to examine the impact of 4th of July fireworks on hourly and daily PM2.5 concentrations at the census tract and county levels in California.
Limitations of this study include the potential for temporal mismatch between the demographic factors and the 4th of July PM2.5 concentration data, given that most of the population and pollution indicators from the CES 3.0 dataset were obtained before 2016, while the PurpleAir data were collected in 2019 and 2020.
Additionally, PM2.5 levels within the census tracts were estimated using averaging measurements from all of the sensors within those tracts. Thus, the number of sensors may affect the average values, with higher uncertainties in the census tracts with a lower number of sensors.
While the temporal and spatial resolution of measurements is improved significantly relative to prior studies, less than 10% of all the census tracts in California were covered by the PurpleAir sensor network as of 2019. Thus, many census tracts were not represented in this study.
Additionally, given that the PurpleAir network does not represent random sampling, census tract-level analyses contain an inherent sampling bias, which limited our ability to determine finer scale variability between certain areas depending on socioeconomic factors and firework-related PM2.5 levels.
Lastly, this study only characterized air pollution in the form of PM2.5 as opposed to other air pollutants, such as black carbon and gaseous pollutants.
This study revealed peaks and hotspots in sensor-based PM2.5 concentrations during the 4th of July episode at a fine temporal and spatial resolution across California.
Census tract-based analyses indicated that firework-related PM2.5 levels varied substantially and were disproportionately elevated in communities characterized by higher proportions of minority group populations, children and elderly residents, and asthma rates, thus underscoring the importance of environmental justice and education about the hazardous effects of short-term household and city-permitted firework displays.
Analyses of regional and local firework regulations across the state showcased the effectiveness of county-wide and city-wide policy in reducing short-term air pollution during the 4th of July period.
Further research on socioeconomic factors among neighborhoods near regular firework
For those wanting to read the actual study…
You can’t trust any media promoting a dishonest narrative allegedly based on science…
Sorry you communist cretins, but I will not support anything that impedes or impacts the celebration of the 4th of July and the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776.
Apparently, these same asswipes have no problem with Antifa and Black Lives Matter when they attack property and police officers with commercial-grade fireworks in cities like Portland, Oregon.
“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!
“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw
“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell “Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar “Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar
“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS