My Turn: Monster trucks, fireworks unsafe for residential area

Plane Krazy takes off over a pile of crushed cars at the Overdrive Monster Truck Show at the Franklin County Fair in 2023.

Plane Krazy takes off over a pile of crushed cars at the Overdrive Monster Truck Show at the Franklin County Fair in 2023. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ


Published: 07-05-2024 12:45 PM


A Lancet medical journal article from 2018 says that when planning fireworks, “foremost, the crowd must be situated upwind and fireworks must not be set off in an enclosed space.”

The Franklin County Fairgrounds are in an enclosed space in the middle of a residential community. Last year, the fireworks were launched in the southeast section of the fairgrounds in the vicinity of the corner of Fairview and Wisdom Way, across the street from where people live. The front yard of the corner house is 25 feet from the fairgrounds’ fence. Last year, residents reported ash landing in yards and on rooftops. The smoke hangs in the air.

The National Institute of Health reports that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) “constitute the largest portion of organic matter in fireworks emissions.” The NIH reports “PAHs to be highly toxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic, teratogenic and immunotoxicogenic.”

It is classified by the International Agency For Research On Cancer as a Group 1 carcinogen, along with diesel, wood smoke, cigarettes and barbecue.

Smoke can trigger asthma and other chronic pulmonary and cardio conditions and is a leading contributor to these diseases. Studies link fireworks’ smoke with increased rates of heart attacks. Smoke is associated with a higher risk of preterm birth. Toxins in the placenta can compromise development in utero and can induce miscarriage. There are reasons one doesn’t smoke cigarettes when pregnant.

Smoke compromises the immune system. During the last four years of concern for immunity from viral infection, is it appropriate to expose the community to aerosolized particulate matter that can be causal to profound changes in the immune system?

Downwinders inhale smoke from fairground campfires. The EPA writes, “wood smoke can irritate your lungs, cause inflammation, affect your immune system, and make you more prone to lung infections, likely including SARS-CoV-2.”

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Adherence to the Lancet’s siting advisory to account for particulate matter should be employed when considering all fairground events, like the truck events of this past weekend.

An International Journal of Environmental Respiratory Health article from January 2018 reports, “Fossil-fuel combustion byproducts are the world’s most significant threat to children’s health and future … impairment of cognitive and behavioral development, respiratory illness, other chronic diseases — all of which may be “seeded” in utero and affect health immediately and over the life course … The developing fetus and young child are disproportionately affected by these exposures because of their immature defense mechanisms.”

“Fertility is reduced and miscarriages increased by exposure to air pollution .... pollutants in the placentas ... strongly linked to low birthweights which has lifelong consequences; stunted lungs, increases in childhood obesity, leukemia and mental health problems,” according to one medical study.

Gideon Bernard’s comment that “there are no health risks associated with the Monster Truck show” [Recorder, June 21] contradicts the information on his company’s website where it states, “Loud noise, exhaust fumes, flying dirt, dust and small pieces of rubber or metal could become airborne during the event. It is the responsibility of the ticket holder to be aware of surroundings at all times and ticket holder is aware of and accepts these risks by entering the facility.”

Particulate matter is released and there are health risks like the volumes of dust clouds that enshroud downwinders and the very “loud noise.” Loud noise can trigger the phobias and anxiety related to PTSD; can induce chronic stress reactions and elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease; and the sounds, smells and shockwaves of fireworks can be triggering for combat vets with PTSD.

The wind was from the south on both days and blew the particulate matter away from us who live southeast of the fairgrounds, appearing to be blown toward the grandstand instead. Particulate matter settles in the lungs. Mutagenic agents cause changes to DNA. Particulate matter can permeate the cells, enter the bloodstream and reach every organ in the body, including the brain and placenta. The placenta has protective mechanisms, but can filter only so much in an environment that daily exposes us to myriad toxins.

The sentiments that our health and safety concerns are secondary to those who profit and receive enjoyment from these events is disappointing. Neither do I comprehend how these events fit into Greenfield’s Sustainable City Master Plan.

I appreciate the opportunities that the fairgrounds offer Greenfield, but the fireworks and truck events don’t belong in a residential area.

Tom Neilson lives in Greenfield.