Disney fireworks pose small risk

By Liu Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-3 23:28:01

Regular fireworks displays at the planned Disney resort in Pudong New Area will increase the air pollution in the area, though not enough to affect the health of nearby residents, a local expert said Sunday.

Shanghai Disneyland, which is expected to open by the end of 2015, sparked complaints about air pollution after it spent several days shooting off fireworks in Chuansha, where construction of the resort is currently underway.

Residents worried that the fireworks would pollute the air in the area, exacerbating the city's already troubling air pollution problems, according to a report in the Shanghai Morning Post Saturday.

A Disneyland representative said that it shot off the fireworks to collect technical data so it could prepare to put on future fireworks displays at the resort, the report said.

The fireworks will cause a spike in the level of PM 2.5 in the area, said Zhuang Guoshun, the director of the Center for Atmospheric Chemistry Study at Fudan University.

PM 2.5 stands for particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter. It is considered a potential health hazard because the small size of the particles allows them to lodge deeply in the lungs, where they can cause or aggravate respiratory illnesses.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), average daily PM 2.5 levels above 20 micrograms per cubic meter can be harmful.

However, it remains unclear how much a daily fireworks show would add to PM 2.5 levels in the city.

The connection between fireworks and air pollution grabbed the public's attention during this year's Spring Festival, when the city's Air Quality Index jumped after residents across the city set off fireworks to celebrate the holiday.

Still, the short duration of the pollution will likely only increase PM 2.5 levels for a short time, Zhuang said. "The human body will suffer respiratory disease in a polluted environment over the long-term," he told the Global Times. "It can't happen over a short period."

Disney resorts typically hold large fireworks displays at night to entice visitors to stay late. Disney's resort in Hong Kong puts on a 20-minute fireworks show every night around 8 pm.

Still, the PM 2.5 levels in cities where Disney has resorts are low, often below 15 micrograms per cubic meter, so the fireworks aren't likely to put them over the WHO's threshold, Zhuang said.

Shanghai already suffers much higher PM 2.5 levels than many other cities, so any increase from the fireworks isn't bound to make much of a difference, he said.

The resort also said that it only uses the most environmentally friendly fireworks, according to the report.

"Even the best fireworks still produce PM 2.5," Zhuang said.

Posted in: Society, Metro Shanghai

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