Well, it looks like the Chinese New Year revelers may have gotten a bit crazy with the firecrackers over in Beijing. The 15-day holiday officially started on January 23rd, a Monday, but apparently the pre-festivities started during the preceding weekend. By that Sunday night, air pollution levels have peaked so high that city officials had become alarmed. The particulate amount reached a level about 100 times higher than considered normal, so residents of the area were justifiably worried about breathing in the air on a commute into the city Monday morning. Thankfully, by noon Monday, most of the air pollution caused by firecrackers had cleared and life was back to normal in Beijing, as normal as it can be in an urban area typically covered in a yellow haze from car and industrial sources. Don’t you remember the Beijing Olympics when many of the athletes, especially the runners, chose to wear protective masks to cover their nose and mouths.
However, don’t worry too much about setting off recreational firecrackers in your own backyard.  The typical user of fireworks is only going to set off a few to a few hundred at a time, nowhere near the millions, maybe even billions, of firecrackers and fireworks set off in China for the Lunar New Year. However, for your own health and safety, make sure that you use your fireworks in an area that is clear from debris and well-ventilated so that you are not inhaling back any of the smoke and fine particles floating in the air. Used in moderation and in open areas, firecrackers are a perfectly fun and safe way to celebrate any holiday.