A Salt Lake City councilman would like the council to consider banning fireworks displays during the city’s New Year celebration events.
Salt Lake City often urges residents and visitors to limit idling, take public transit, and carpool in order to combat air pollution, especially during winter inversions.
City Councilman Charlie Luke says he has high expectations for local government as well.
“Salt Lake City, I believe we need to walk the walk the walk,” Luke says. “I mean if we are asking our residents to do their part, I mean Salt Lake City needs to do its part as well. And having a fireworks show in the middle of a red air quality [day], that does send the wrong message.”
This year, during Salt Lake City’s New Year Celebration, EVE, air quality was already at red alert status before the fireworks display began.
Bo Call is the manager of the air monitoring section for the state Department of Environmental Quality. He says while fireworks might exacerbate conditions in the short term, it’s not making inversion conditions worse in the long term.
“But all particles have some negative health impacts, and so it could be said that there are, notwithstanding that they’re nice to look at, are health impacts for those that are around them that are close enough to get whatever the results are of the fireworks, because the levels do go up,” Call says.
Using fireworks can have a dramatic if temporary effect on air pollution. On July 4th last year, the state Division of Air Quality logged 725 micrograms of pm2.5 pollution per cubic meter of air in Ogden during peak firework hours. That’s 20 times the federal standard of just 35 micrograms per cubic meter.
Councilman Luke says he would support a ban on private fireworks displays during mandatory no-burn days as well.