On the Fourth of July, families, friends and communities gather to celebrate our independence and the birth of our nation. Typically, fireworks play a central role in honoring the spirit of the holiday.
Fireworks are great for celebrating: they’re loud, they’re bright and they’re all-around fun. However, they have a downside: they contribute to air pollution and can greatly impair air quality for quite some time after the colorful displays have ended. Smoke from fireworks poses a health risk — particularly for those with asthma — and traces of accelerants and heavy metals used to create colors can stay in the air and water for weeks.
Here are some fun and healthy ways to celebrate the Fourth:
- Watch a community fireworks show. Many cities and counties host fireworks displays for everyone to enjoy. Grab some friends and food and enjoy a professional show for free, instead of adding to air pollution with your own fireworks. Besides, professionals get to use the BIG impressive fireworks! Check your local news station to find a display near you.
- Buy fewer personal fireworks. You may not be willing to completely forego a family tradition, but cutting back on the amount of fireworks you use is very beneficial. Fewer fireworks equal fewer harmful particles distributed into the air we breathe. (Plus, it’s much safer!)
- Host a block party and share a grill. Holidays are about celebrating together, and block parties are a fun way to catch up with neighbors and friends. Try using just one grill instead of several to reduce the amount of fine particles released into our air. Lighting the coals with a charcoal chimney helps, too.
- Stroll over to the community parade. For many of us, the Independence Day parade is a highlight of the holiday. Everyone enjoys a good parade complete with small treats and prizes, and civic groups turn out to offer an exciting, visual way to celebrate local history. Try walking or biking to the parade route instead of driving — you’ll avoid traffic and parking hassles while you help reduce emissions.