ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- Fireworks are a traditional way to celebrate the Fourth of July, but environmental health officials say that there are unintended consequences. According to the environmental protection agency, air pollution levels are increased by 42% on average across the U.S. on the Fourth of July.

Although the fourth is behind us, the particles can stay in the air for days, if not weeks. Officials say this can affect mostly children, the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions like heart or lung disease.

A local environmental health director touched on the pollution that fireworks create.

"Fireworks create smoke and particulate matter. Both of which have a tendency, depending on weather conditions especially, to hang out in the air. Anything that pollutes the air may cause issues for people in terms of breathing especially those who suffer from COPD, asthma, things like that," says Jonathan Keough, Director of Environmental Health Services. 

"The young, especially the old may suffer the most. Our advice to those folks would be that if you see a lot of smoke after fireworks, and it can be your own kind of backyard fireworks or it can be the commercial fireworks that we see this time of year, just stay inside if they see the smoke and if they are suffering from breathing issues," Keough added. 

EPA officials advise anyone with pre-existing conditions like heart or lung disease and asthma, to watch from the upwind of the fireworks.