This Independence Day, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District officials want to remind Central Valley residents of the effects July 4 fireworks can have that threaten public health.

Air District officials said fireworks can increase levels of dangerous particulate matter, known as PM, including soot, ash and metals, which cause serious health impacts. They said individuals most at risk are small children, the elderly and people with existing respiratory conditions.

“If Valley residents feel the need to enjoy fireworks, we urge them to exhibit their patriotism by attending a professional Independence Day event in their area instead of using personal fireworks,” Samir Sheikh, the district’s deputy air pollution control officer, said. “Each year, people suffer serious health consequences from direct exposure in the neighborhoods where they live and breathe — from firework activities that are entirely preventable.”

Fine particulate matter can invade the bloodstream, get deep into the lungs and has been linked to heart attacks and stroke, officials said.

Each year on the Fourth of July, district officials said air monitors across the Valley reflect spikes in PM concentrations — often four to five times higher than the health-based federal standards — and typically occur between the hours of 9-10 p.m.

Officials said these spikes are due in part to personal fireworks used throughout Valley neighborhoods, and said high levels of PM threaten the Valley’s progress in meeting air-quality standards that protect public health.

The Air District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) provides localized air quality data from an extensive air-monitoring network which allows Valley residents to track PM at any Valley address by visiting myraan.org.

For more information about the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, call the regional office in Fresno at 230-6000.

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