Skip to main content


Log in

A new indicator of fireworks emissions in Rochester, New York

  • Published:
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Aims and scope Submit manuscript


In ambient particle source apportionment studies, data for holidays such as July 4 (US Independence Day) are normally removed because of the high concentrations of chemical species and unusually high particle mass concentrations that are due to fireworks. Many cultures celebrate events with fireworks. A near real-time measurement that could indicate fireworks would be useful in indicating their impact on air quality. Commonly monitored ambient pollutants include PM2.5, CO, SO2, O3, 10–500-nm particle number, and black carbon (BC). Using a two-wavelength aethalometer, another parameter, delta-C (UVBC370 nm–BC880 nm, aethalometer), can be calculated. These variables were continuously monitored during July 1–7, 2005–2010, in Rochester, New York. High delta-C values are normally associated with biomass combustion particles. However, statistically higher delta-C values were observed on Independence Day compared to the other period. Back trajectory analysis showed transport of local fireworks smoke to the sampling site on the night of July 4. An enhanced correlation between delta-C and BC during the fireworks episodes suggests changes from the usual BC sources. Fireworks emissions changed the ambient carbonaceous particulate species during these intervals. The delta-C value was found to be a readily measured indicator of fireworks emissions during periods when wood combustion was not likely to be present and provides a tool for monitoring such emissions where they might be more common such as amusement parks.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Andreae, M. O., & Merlet, P. (2001). Emission of trace gases and aerosols from biomass burning. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 15(4), 955–966.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Barman, S. C., Singh, R., Negi, M. P. S., & Bhargava, S. K. (2009). Fine particles (PM2.5) in ambient air of Lucknow city due to fireworks on Diwali festival. Journal of Environmental Biology, 30(5), 625–632.

    Google Scholar 

  • Camilleri, R., & Vella, A. J. (2010). Effect of fireworks on ambient air quality in Malta. Atmospheric Environment, 44, 4521–4527.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Croteau, G., Dills, R., Beaudreau, M., & Davis, M. (2010). Emission factors and exposures from ground-level pyrotechnics. Atmospheric Environment, 44, 3295–3303.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Harrad, S., & Laurie, L. (2005). Concentrations, sources and temporal trends in atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon in a major conurbation. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 7, 722–727.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hirai, K., Yamazaki, Y., Okada, K., Furuta, S., & Kubo, K. (2000). Acute eosinophilic pneumonia associated with smoke from fireworks. Internal Medicine, 39, 401–403.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hopke, P. K. (2007). Rockets red glare. InPark, 3(2), 26–29.

    Google Scholar 

  • Moreno, T., Querol, X., Alastuey, A., Amato, F., Pey, J., Pandolfi, M., et al. (2010). Effect of fireworks events on urban background trace metal aerosol concentrations: Is the cocktail worth the show? Journal of Hazardous Materials, 183, 945–949.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Murty, O. P. (2000). Diwali toxicity. Journal of Forensic Medical and Toxicity, 17, 23–26.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Sarkar, S., Khillare, P. S., Jyethi, D. S., Hasen, A., & Parween, M. (2010). Chemical speciation of respirable suspended particulate matter during a major firework festival in India. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 184, 321–330.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Vecchi, R., Bernardoni, V., Cricchio, D., D'Alessandro, A., Fermo, P., Lucarelli, F., et al. (2008). The impact of fireworks on airborne particles. Atmospheric Environment, 42, 1121–1132.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Virkkula, A., Mäkelä, T., Hillamo, R., Yli-Tuomi, T., Hirsikko, A., Hämeri, K., et al. (2007). A simple procedure for correcting loading effects of aethalometer data. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 57, 1214–1222.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang, Y., Zhuang, G., Xu, C., & An, Z. (2007). The air pollution caused by the burning of fireworks during the lantern festival in Beijing. Atmospheric Environment, 41, 417–431.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wang, Y., Huang, J., Zananski, T. J., Hopke, P. K., & Holsen, T. M. (2010). Impacts of the Canadian forest fires on atmospheric mercury and carbonaceous aerosols in northern New York. Environmental Science & Technology, 44, 8435–8440.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wang, Y., Hopke, P. K., Chalupa, D. C., & Utell, M. J. (2011a). Long-term study of urban ultrafine particles and other pollutants. Atmospheric Environment, 45(40), 7672–7680.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wang, Y., Hopke, P. K., Rattigan, O. V., & Zhu, Y. (2011b). Characterization of ambient black carbon and wood burning particles in urban areas. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 13, 1919–1926.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wang, Y., Hopke, P. K., Rattigan, O. V., & Xia, X. (2011c). Characterization of residential wood combustion particles using the two-wavelength aethalometer. Environmental Science & Technology, 45(17), 7387–7393.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wang, Y., Hopke, P. K., & Utell, M. J. (2011d). Urban-scale spatial-temporal variability of black carbon and wood burning particles. Aerosol and Air Quality Research, 11, 473–481.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wilkin, R. T., Fine, D. D., & Burnett, N. G. (2007). Perchlorate behavior in a municipal lake following fireworks displays. Environmental Science & Technology, 41, 3966–3971.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang, M., Wang, X., Chen, J., Cheng, T., Wang, T., Yang, X., et al. (2010). Physical characterization of aerosol particles during the Chinese New Year's firework events. Atmospheric Environment, 44, 5191–5198.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) through the University of Rochester PM and Health Center Grant RD832415, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Although the research described in this work has been partly funded by the US EPA, it has not been subjected to the agency's required peer and policy review and therefore does not necessarily reflect the views of the agency, and no official endorsement should be inferred. The authors gratefully acknowledge the NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) for the provision of the HYSPLIT transport and dispersion model and/or the READY website ( used in this work. The authors also thank Mr. David C. Chalupa from the University of Rochester Medical Center for collecting SMPS data.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Philip K. Hopke.

Electronic supplementary materials

Supplementary data associated with this article can be found in the online version.


(DOCX 1193 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wang, Y., Hopke, P.K. & Rattigan, O.V. A new indicator of fireworks emissions in Rochester, New York. Environ Monit Assess 184, 7293–7297 (2012).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: