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How fireworks impacted the air quality in Metro Detroit

Fireworks worsen Metro Detroit air quality, experts say
Fireworks worsen Metro Detroit air quality, experts say 02:29

(CBS DETROIT) — One day after Independence Day, air quality levels in Metro Detroit were high. Experts said pollution after a fireworks show is just one of many cons during big events.

"Wind direction and speed really do matter, but I think locally, within two to four hours, things should clear up," said Dr. Terry Gordon.

Gordon, a professor at NYU who studies air pollution, knows the health implications of a pyrotechnics show.

He said research shows pollution increases during or after a display. Most are created with harmful metals like copper or titanium.

"And there was lead at huge concentrations in one of the 12; I mean, there's no reason lead should be in there," Gordon said.

According to AirNow, the air quality in Detroit was around 214 on Friday morning. Gordon is concerned about that number.

For him, it's pregnant women, children, or adults with asthma who may need to pull out their masks to play it safe.

"The metals that you're inhaling that I'm concerned about, I don't know if there would be really acute effects you would notice there might be more chronic effects," Gordon said.

As air quality worsens and injuries soar following July 4th historically, others opt for safer options.

"A few years ago in California, they saw a lot of fire damage there, and a lot of fire shows were canceled very last minute and we picked up several drone shows just cause of that, so you have to look at the fire danger of pyrotechnics," said Tyler Johnson of Sky Elements Drone Shows.

Communities in western states like Texas and Arizona are switching to drone shows. Companies like Sky Elements are seeing their popularity increase nationwide, even in places like Ocala, Florida.

"They really wanted to focus on, hey, we want to do something that isn't going to scare the animals, not going to cause any trauma to our veterans, so they wanted to prioritize a drone show," Johnson said.

Gordon said most of our fireworks come from China, and he questions whether our imports are being heavily monitored. He said the main source of pollution comes from when the fireworks burn and explode into colors.

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