The Fourth of July is marked usually with copious amounts of fireworks displays across the United States. These displays create large amounts of smoke, which according to a study cited by National Geographic, disproportionately affect black and Hispanic communities in urban areas.
National Geographic published an article Friday outlining these findings. "The smoke and particles created by fireworks are especially problematic for vulnerable people, often in Black and Hispanic communities," the article is prefaced.
Research cited within the article focused on California, which already possesses some of the worst levels of air pollution nationwide.
"Using crowdsourced data from home air quality monitors, scientists found that vulnerable people and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to air pollution from firework celebrations," the article stated. "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," the article added.
Citing a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the outlet stated that Fourth of July fireworks at their peak can produce enough smoke to rival wildfires.
"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," National Geographic wrote.
The Researchers at UC Irvine conducted a study in which they looked at patterns to determine "which populations were more exposed to inhalable particles less than 2.5 micrometers across, called PM2.5."
"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," according to the research cited by National Geographic.
Jun Wu, a professor of public health at UC Irvine and the senior author of the UC Irvine study concluded that the state needs to crackdown on illegal fireworks, and proposed a shift to other light displays, like drone light shows.