Hard to Breathe? Enjoy 4th of July in Moderation

By: Leah Uko

OMAHA (KPTM) - For many people, fireworks will bring excitement tonight. But for people sensitive to air pollution, the 4th of July holiday brings fear.

The Douglas County Health Department said every year, the night before the holiday through the day after, smoke from fireworks makes it difficult for people with asthma or other lung or heart diseases, the elderly, pregnant women and children to breathe.

"I like it but it's just every--every time I just don't like smoke bombs because they got so much smoke," Jiaonna Dortch said.

Dortch, 8, said she enjoys the 4th of July with caution because of a past experience with fireworks.

"It was going in here and then I couldn't, I couldn't like--I couldn't try to get it out."

She was not the only kid playing outside at Girls Inc. in north Omaha who said she gets both excited and worried about the festive day.

"When the smokes from--come from the fireworks, it feel like I can't breathe," 7-year-old, Taniya McClinton said.

Russell Hadan with the health department monitors ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitric oxide--pollutants that fireworks leave behind. He said air quality conditions worsen when fireworks disappear.

"It will linger into the morning you'll see a haze throughout Omaha and that's actually a fireworks reminisce smoke and stuff and that's what we're concerned about."

If people find it hard to breathe for the next few days, Hadan said to enjoy the holiday in moderation.

"Go out after 10 or 11 in the morning," Hadan explained. "If the wind is starting to blow, you see that smoke clearing out, then it's probably okay to head out."

He also advised people to keep outdoor activities and strenuous exercise to a minimum--if at all.

Some symptoms include repeated coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, wheezing, tightness or pain in the chest, palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue or a light-headed feeling. The health department said symptoms could occur up to several weeks following exposure to pollution.

It advised anyone experiencing worsening symptoms to contact a health care provider.

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