Evansville Environmental Protection Agency
"We Care About Clean Air"
Fireworks, Air Pollution, and Your Health
As the Fourth of July approaches, it will again be time for some of our friends and neighbors to light fireworks in celebration of the holiday. It is important to remember that while fireworks are great fun for some, they can be an aggravation to others and possibly pose a health threat to those with certain diseases and respiratory issues.
All the pretty colors in fireworks are created from powders containing metal compounds: copper produces blue, barium produces green, strontium produces red, and magnesium produces bright white. When fireworks explode, these metal compounds and other materials are released into the atmosphere creating smoke and particulate matter pollution, eventually landing on the ground and in our waterways.
The smoke from fireworks may be a health hazard to you or your neighbor. During evening hours around the holiday, but especially on July 4th, air quality monitors in the area may detect a spike in particulate matter levels.
People most sensitive to these spikes are children, the elderly, and people with heart or respiratory conditions. Short-term exposure to smoke can aggravate lung disease, trigger asthma attacks, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.
To minimize the impacts from fireworks smoke, sensitive individuals should reduce or eliminate their use of personal fireworks which concentrate smoke at ground level. Although the large aerial displays at community events produce more smoke than personal use fireworks, these large displays are launched at greater heights allowing the smoke to dissipate more before reaching people at ground level.
If you are very sensitive to smoke, enjoy the fireworks shows from a distance or watch from inside your home with the windows closed.
It is also important to be aware that what you ignite in celebration can affect those around you. The smoke may cause breathing issues for a neighbor, the debris could create a hazard to neighboring property, and the noise could be bothersome to those nearby. It is important that all city rules are followed.
Within the city of Evansville, some fireworks are allowed for personal use on private property between the hours of 5 p.m. and two hours after sunset (not to exceed 10:30 p.m.) on June 29-30, July 1-3, and July 5-9. On the Fourth of July, fireworks may be used between the hours of 10 a.m. and midnight.
For more information on the city’s fireworks ordinance, please visit
For more information on particulate matter and your health, please visit