Fourth of July fireworks cause bad air quality throughout Fresno

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FRESNO COUNTY, California. (KGPE) – We’re now learning more about the effect of illegal fireworks on our air quality this fourth of July.

The Valley Air District says each year, particulate matter concentrations register four to five times the health-based federal standard, and this year was no different.

“When we get to the levels, we see on the 4th of July, everybody is impacted,” said Anthony Presto of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Starting at 9 p.m on the 4th, particulate matter levels in Fresno spiked off the charts far above level five, which is considered very unhealthy by the Valley Air District.

“It impacts our breathing it can get deep into our lungs and also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke,” explained Presto.

Even short periods of exposure can be harmful, especially to the young, the old, and people with respiratory issues- like Martin Martinez’s 15-year-old son.

“We try to keep him indoors, the air is really bad for him we don’t want him having an asthma attack and ending up in the hospital,” said Martinez.

He says his family didn’t set off fireworks on the 4th. 

“I mean the air is already dirty enough, why add more?” Martinez explained.

Neither did David Kurtze, who is gearing up for an ironman triathlon in October.

“The swim is 2.4 miles, the bike is 112 then the run is 26.2, a full marathon,” said Kurtze.

For him, training is everything and the weather and air quality can make a difference.

“Sometimes we just press through it, if it’s really bad we try to go further into the mountains where the air quality is a little better or we go early in the morning, just depends on the situation,” explained Kurtze.  

As the summer continues and the region is undoubtedly faced with more fires, the Valley Air District encourages everyone to do their part to keep the air clean.

“It really does make a difference for all of us to take these air quality issues seriously and make changes in our own lives to reduce the amount of pollution we are creating,” said Jaime Holt with the Valley Air District.

The Valley Air District says those big professional fireworks shows are actually better for your health because they are going off much further into the atmosphere, compared to right in front of you in your driveway or street.

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