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Enjoy a greener Fourth of July weekend

By Christine Hill

Celebrate a greener Independence Day with these tips and events, and decrease your impact on air quality this holiday weekend.

Traditionally, the Fourth of July is full of fireworks, barbecue and fun, family outdoor activities. Fireworks provide a luminous array of patriotic cacophony that Americans look forward to every year. However, the environmental impact of lighting the skies of your neighborhood is less positive. According to the Mid-America Regional Council, local air quality is compromised whenever chemicals are ignited, and this in turn contributes to pollution. Smoke, accelerants and heavy metals emitted by fireworks are especially risky for people with asthma, and traces of these chemicals can linger in the air and water weeks after the fireworks are extinguished.

A few simple tips can lessen these negative environmental effects, while keeping the fun and excitement in the celebration.

Begin reducing your carbon footprint at the grill. Avoid self-lighting charcoal and petroleum-based lighter fluid. Try using a charcoal chimney, natural lighter fluids or an electric charcoal starter to grill greener. Also consider joining friends for the meal prep, and light only one grill, instead of several.

Save money on your personal fireworks display this year and make a smaller contribution to air pollution by simply buying and shooting off fewer fireworks. (They are illegal in some cities, including Kansas City, MO). Or better yet, avoid buying any fireworks and take the family to a professional display. Local displays often include music, food and other festivities that are more economical than financing your own display.

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