Fireworks are one of the most unusual sources of pollution in atmosphere; although transient, these pollution episodes are responsible for high concentrations of particles (especially metals and organic compounds) and gases. In this paper, results of a study on chemical–physical properties of airborne particles (elements, ions, organic and elemental carbon and particles size distributions) collected during a fireworks episode in Milan (Italy) are reported. Elements typically emitted during pyrotechnic displays increased in 1 h as follows: Sr (120 times), Mg (22 times), Ba (12 times), K (11 times), and Cu (6 times). In our case study, Sr was recognised as the best fireworks tracer because its concentration was very high during the event and lower than, or comparable with, minimum detection limits during other time intervals, suggesting that it was mainly due to pyrotechnic displays. In addition, particles number concentrations increased significantly during the episode (up to 6.7 times in 1 h for the 0.5
The original application of Positive Matrix Factorisation and Multiple Linear Regression allowed, as far as we know, here for the first time, the quantification of the fireworks contribution to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) and the resolution of their chemical profile. The contribution of fireworks to the local environment in terms of PM10 mass, elements and chemical components was assessed with 4-h time resolution. PM10 mass apportioned by fireworks was up to 33.6 μg m−3 (about 50% of the total PM10 mass). Major contributors were elemental and organic carbon (2.8 and 8.1 μg m−3, respectively) as well as metals like Mg, K, Sr, Ba, and Cu (0.4, 0.7, 0.07, 0.1, and 0.1 μg m−3, respectively).