Lincoln, NE (July 2, 2021) The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today issued a health advisory for sensitive populations due to anticipated high levels of smoke from fireworks during the upcoming Independence Day weekend.
Fireworks may be used in the City of Lincoln from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 3, and from 8 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on July 4. The LLCHD Air Quality Program typically observes periodic high levels of particulate air pollution from the evening of July 3 through the morning of July 5. During those times, Lincoln’s Air Quality Index (AQI) often reaches peak levels that are unhealthy for everyone, but are especially unhealthy for people with heart disease, asthma, or other respiratory conditions like COPD.
Gary Bergstrom, Air Quality Program Supervisor with the LLCHD, said that most people are unlikely to be affected, but those most at risk are youth, the elderly and those sensitive individuals with respiratory or heart conditions. He said when the tiny particles and gases in smoke from fireworks are breathed into the lungs, it can cause asthma attacks, worsen chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and cause angina (chest pain) in some people with heart disease.
People at risk should avoid extensive physical activity outdoors or remain indoors with windows and doors closed, and those who experience health effects should contact a medical care provider. Bergstrom said that even a few hours of exposure to high levels of particle pollution may affect those with underlying health conditions.
The current weather forecast calls for relatively low wind speeds on July 3 and 4, which means elevated smoke levels may linger for several hours. The LLCHD recommends that at-risk individuals take extra precautions during the peak hours of air pollution, which will likely be after dusk on July 4 into the morning hours of July 5.
The LLCHD monitors air quality 24 hours a day. The AQI for Lincoln is updated hourly and is available at lincoln.ne.gov (search: air). Residents are encouraged to check the AQI the next few days before doing any strenuous activities outside.