A new indicator of fireworks emissions in Rochester, New York


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.

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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 (http://www.arl.noaa.gov/ready.html) used in this work. The authors also thank Mr. David C. Chalupa from the University of Rochester Medical Center for collecting SMPS data.

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Correspondence to Philip K. Hopke.

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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). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-011-2497-5

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  • Fireworks
  • Aethalometer
  • Delta-C