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Fireworks cause same toxic smoke as wildfires, concerning New Yorkers

There's a big fireworks show coming to New York City, but not without concern.
Fireworks cause same toxic smoke as wildfires, concerning New Yorkers
Posted at 4:54 PM, Jul 04, 2023

Once again, the fabulous New York City skyline will shine brighter than ever, as the 47th annual Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Show caps off Independence Day with a big bang.

"This year's tribute to Tina Turner is really special. It's our Macy's Golden Mile, which is a mile long worth of pyrotechnics. We have three minutes of nonstop pyrotechnics celebrating the great late Tina Turner," said Will Coss, Executive Producer of Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Show.

A total of 60,000 shells will be launched during the dazzling display.

But the celebration brings health concerns, particularly about the smoke involved.

Meteorologist Paul Walsh says those exploding chemicals in the sky can carry real health risks for people on the ground, especially since the skies in the region have already been engulfed in a haze of toxic smoke from Canadian wildfires over the last few weeks.

"The problem with fireworks is that they produce the same kind of toxic smoke that wildfires do," Walsh said. "When you combine that with fireworks, which also produce unhealthy air quality, it can be a really toxic mix."

As a result, several cities across the U.S. say they're swapping their traditional Independence Day fireworks for drone light shows instead.

"In New York City two years ago, the air quality was the third worst in the world right after that show, and the bad air can linger for 12, even 24 hours," Walsh said.

Salt Lake City tried out an alternative celebration over the weekend. And in California, several municipalities are replacing their flashing pyrotechnics and bangs.

"There's always an opportunity to evolve as technology evolves, as new elements evolve," Coss said.

"Over the next few years is probably a lower reliance on the kind of fireworks that we see today, and more and more you've seen these quite often drones actually going up and doing these amazing firework shows," Walsh said.

Meanwhile, Walsh said if you're attending a fireworks spectacle, wearing a KN95 mask might be a smart idea. The expert told Scripps News people with lung and heart conditions should be taking extra precautions during these celebrations.

The show in New York is Tuesday night at 9:25 p.m. ET and will last for 25 minutes.

SEE MORE: Protect your hearing from fireworks this Fourth of July

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