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Impact 'limited': fireworks industry releases report on impact to air quality


The popular Montreal amusement park La Ronde typically starts its summers off with a bang, sending fireworks into the sky for the annual international fireworks competition.

Last year, however, smog and public health halted those plans after it was thought at the time that it would be unsafe to add more pollution to the already smoky air.

"If we want to avoid really high levels of particles, even if it's temporary over there, over the evening and overnight, then it just makes sense to not have that firework show tonight," said Montreal public health's Dr. David Kaiser in June.

On Wednesday, the fireworks industry released the results of an independent study that measured the level of fine particulate matter in the air after a 30-minute show.

"The good news is the impact is quite limited in space and in time and is probably more limited than what some would see or expected," said Canadian Pyrotechnic Counicl spokesperson Maude Furtado.

Air quality specialist Jean-Luc Allard conducted the study and said the impact is not negligible but is limited to the actual plume of smoke, and it dissipates quickly.

"If you look at criteria related to short duration, three hours in some cases, we have shown that there is some air quality deterioration," said Allard.

To that end, this year's fireworks festival is making some slight changes.

There will still be eight 30-minute displays throughout the summer, but they'll only be able to use fireworks for 25 minutes.

The rest of the show will be filled with lasers.

"We are aware that we have an impact, but as low as this impact is, I think it's, in terms of good citizens, we need to address those matters," said La Ronde president Sophie Emond.

For the industry, the issue is an existential threat.

Furado said dozens of towns across Quebec have already decided against fireworks shows for their St. Jean Baptiste Day celebrations because of public opinion.

"We're worried about the perception of the fireworks, and this is why we had this study made to kind of a counter, the myth surround by fireworks," said Furtado.

Montreal public health said it's happy the issue is being looked at, but will only comment once it has had time to review the study's data.  Top Stories

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