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Title: Impact of 4th of July Fireworks on Spatiotemporal PM2.5 Concentrations in California Based on the PurpleAir Sensor Network: Implications for Policy and Environmental Justice.

Authors: Mousavi, Amirhosein; Yuan, Yiting; Masri, Shahir; Barta, Greg; Wu, Jun

Published In Int J Environ Res Public Health, (2021 May 27)

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. American Community Survey (ACS) and CalEnviroScreen 3.0 data were used to identify correlations between PM2.5 measurements and socioeconomic status (SES). A two-step method was implemented to assure the quality of raw PM2.5 sensor data and sensor calibration against co-located reference instruments. The results showed that over 67% and 81% of counties experienced immediate impacts related to fireworks in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Relative to 2019, the peak PM2.5 concentrations on July 4th and 5th 2020 were, on average, over 50% higher in California, likely due to the COVID-19-related increase in the use of household-level fireworks. This increase was most pronounced in southern counties, which tend to have less strict firework-related regulations and a greater use of illegal fireworks. Los Angeles County experienced the highest July 4th daily PM2.5 levels both in 2019 (29.9 µg·m-3) and 2020 (42.6 µg·m-3). Spatial hot spot analyses generally showed these southern counties (e.g., Los Angeles County) to be regional air pollution hotspots, whereas the opposite pattern was seen in the north (e.g., San Francisco). The results also showed PM2.5 peaks that were over two-times higher among communities with lower SES, higher minority group populations, and higher asthma rates. Our findings highlight the important role that policy and enforcement can play in reducing firework-related air pollution and protecting public health, as exemplified by southern California, where policy was more relaxed and air pollution was higher (especially in 2020 when the 4th of July coincided with the COVID-19-lockdown period), and in disadvantaged communities where disparities were greatest.

PubMed ID: 34071796 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: Air Pollutants*/analysis; Air Pollution*/analysis; COVID-19*; Communicable Disease Control; Environmental Monitoring; Humans; Particulate Matter/analysis; Policy; SARS-CoV-2; San Francisco

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