Date of Award

May 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Atmospheric Science

First Advisor

Jon Kahl


This study identified state fairs with known firework displays to evaluate whether they impact local air quality. Previous research has shown firework displays are linked with the short-term degradation of local air quality due to increased concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) as a result of the display. These studies observed increased PM2.5 concentrations associated with widespread firework displays such as the Lantern Festival in China, Diwali Festival in India, and Independence Day in the United States. However, it has not been investigated whether a signal of increased PM2.5 concentrations from firework displays during a state fair could be observed to degrade air quality in nearby neighborhoods. Air quality and meteorological data were collected for five state fairs, with the fairs ranging 10 –14 days in duration, over 2 – 7 years. Statistical analysis performed on multi-year aggregated data for each state fair found that festival day concentrations were not larger than non-festival day concentrations. However, results from individual years identified several hours for the Delaware, Iowa, and Minnesota State Fairs where hourly festival day concentrations were larger than non-festival day. These hours occurred in the afternoon (Minnesota State Fair) and in the overnight early morning hours (Delaware and Iowa State Fairs). Statistical analysis was then performed on multi-year aggregated data during hours in which wind was blowing from the direction of the state fair to air monitoring site (within plus or minus 30˚) and wind speeds were non-zero. The results continued to identify several hours where hourly festival day concentrations were larger during the Iowa State Fair. Once again, these hours occurred overnight, and festival day mean concentrations were generally 3 – 8 μg/m3 larger than control. Possible explanations of the results include (a) the distance of the air quality monitoring site from the fairgrounds being too far to detect firework emissions, (b) other emission sources provided too much noise to discern a clear signal, or (c) emissions from firework displays were smaller than expected.