Every Fourth of July, air pollution levels spike across the country, including in Nashville.
“It definitely felt heavier,” said Caitlin Callis. “I felt more smokiness in the air, kind a little harder to breathe.”
The thicker air filled Music City’s skies post Fourth of July.
“Fireworks can elicit a lot of different types of pollutants,” said Dr. Stokes Peebles, Vanderbilt UMC Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
One of those pollutants — particulate mater.
“It can be a real problem,” said Dr. Peebles. “We know that for instance, around the holidays where fireworks are shot off, the particulate matter can go up to 20-fold with ordinary levels.”
Dr. Peebles said most at-risk are those with chronic respiratory problems, causing further inflammation in the lungs.
“If they have COPD or asthma, they might feel chest tightness and shortness of breath,” said Dr. Peebles. “Other people with other diseases like pulmonary fibrosis they might have increase in shortness of breath.”
Meteorologist Krissy Hurley from the National Weather Service in Nashville told News 2, the storms right before the fireworks helped to cool down temperatures, but left behind lots of moisture.
Hurley said the difference in temperature above and below the ground capped off any air movement.
Add the calm winds and the smoke had no where to go.
“Also, the ozone goes up when you have a lot of sunlight in the summer time and with high levels of pollutants,” said Dr. Peebles.
For those experiencing respiratory issues, the best advice is to stay indoors until the smoke subsides.
“Stay in air conditioning because air conditioning removes humidity,” said Dr. Peebles. “So avoid areas where you’re going to be around pollution.”
Rain in the weekend forecast is supposed to knock down any remaining particulate matter.