With our own calibrated citizens real time network we could look at the city through the eyes of air pollution. The calibration was made official around Christmas time 2013. The first event that spontaneously raised our curiosity was the national fireworks culture around new year.
In Holland people spend a lot of money on fireworks. Tradition refers to the banning of the devil for the coming year by making as much noise as possible. In modern reality we may assume that a religious background has diminished while the fun of creating a spectacle developed. Regulation allows usage during the last day of the year and new years eve itself. Observation every year has shown intense build up of smoke with the burst of smell of carbide, phosphor, paper burning and other chemicals. How would this show on our new measurement system?
We observed strong ultra fine dust and fine dust peaks throughout the city. It was interesting to see the spread which was equivalent to the areas where citizens show most firework activity. Such peak is different from the usual traffic related averages. The first firework peak was just after dinnertime on new years eve. The biggest peak however was at new year of course and lasted for about 1 hour. The peaks were dispersed rapidly.
Being our first observation it became interesting to consider to what invisible danger we expose our youngsters? Young and male is traditionally the profile that is most active with fire crackers, surrounded by friends, neighbors and family. The UFP (ultra fine particle) are smaller than a virus and have proven to be extremely dangerous, causing all kinds of infections when caught in the cells of our organs. Scientists have averaged long term exposure over a particular time period when dealing with the larger fine dust (pm2.5 +). But with the infectious probabilities of UFP in our bodies this averaging should most certainly be reviewed.
Our bodies do have defense mechanisms do combat virus or bacteria but not for the non organic dead infectious particles. An infection may ex-pulse an intruder but also can cause the origins of cancer, damage artery walls causing the accumulation of artery fats and eventually coronary and heart failure. Also our lungs are infected and a recent study revealed brain damage that causes behavioral disorder, aggression and eventually mental problems such as Alzheimer.
The summing up of all these consequences does make us wonder if the explosions really ban out the devil or invites him into our system? Our most vulnerable population, our youngest adults, is exposed for a short period of time to a tremendous peak of invisible danger. Our observations were expressed in the news paper with the first question: what to do?
Many other cities in the world already structured fire works in a professional way, concentrating it at place where large populations could enjoy the magic of the colors and explosion but not at the expense of their health. Other ideas arose to see if the pollution could be avoided by involving high tech laser techniques and holograms in the shows?