Recreational atmospheric pollution episodes: Inhalable metalliferous particles from firework displays
The use of fireworks creates an unusual and distinctive anthropogenic atmospheric pollution event. We report on aerosol samples collected during Las Fallas in Valencia, a 6-day celebration famous for its firework displays, and add comparative data on firework- and bonfire-contaminated atmospheric aerosol samples collected from elsewhere in Spain (Barcelona, L'Alcora, and Borriana) and during the Guy Fawkes celebrations in London. Specific high-profile official firework events during Las Fallas included the afternoon Mascletà and the nightly aerial displays (especially in the climactic final 2 days of the fiesta) and were accompanied by pollution spikes in suspended particles, NO, SO 2, and the creation and dispersal of an aerosol cloud enriched in a range of metallic elements. Notable metal aerosol concentration increases recorded during Las Fallas were potassium (from 500 to 5900 ng m -3), aluminium (as Al 2O 3 from around 600 to 2200 ng m -3), titanium (from 200 to 700 ng m -3), magnesium (from 100 to 500 ng m -3), lead (from 17 to 379 ng m -3), barium (from 39 to 322 ng m -3), strontium (from 3 to 112 ng m -3), copper (from 12 to 71 ng m -3), and antimony (from 1 to 52 ng m -3). Firework-contaminated aerosols of similarly metalliferous composition were also identified at the other monitoring sites, although different sites show variations attributable to other sources such as bonfires and local industry. Unusual levels of the trace elements Ba, Sr and (to a lesser extent) Cu, always in proportions with Ba dominant, along with strongly enhanced K, Pb, and Sb, are identified as being particularly characteristic of firework aerosols. Although firework-related recreational pollution episodes are transient in nature, they are highly concentrated, contribute significantly to total annual metal emissions, and are on average fine enough to be easily inhaled and a health risk to susceptible individuals.