SALT LAKE CITY -- Through the haze of Salt Lake City’s skies on New Year's, crowds came to see a fireworks show that filled the air with something much worse than just lights, according to city councilman, Charlie Luke.
“If we’re asking so much of our residents, and then we shoot fireworks off during a Red Air quality night, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Luke said.
The councilman wants the city to consider the possibility of prohibiting fireworks on bad air days, like New Year's Day was earlier this week.
“That’s something I think we need to start asking ourselves,” Luke said, “How serious are we and how willing are we to really start addressing air quality issues?”
But according to Bo Call, Manager of Air Monitoring at the Division of Air Quality, grounding fireworks may not make much of a difference.
“Over the length of the inversion, I don’t think it really would,” said Call.
Air quality monitors showed a minimal spike in pollutants that could be attributed to the New Year's fireworks, according to Call, but it’s not overly significant.
“It’s going to kind of fall out fairly readily,” he said. “So, even if we do see it, it’s going to drop out pretty quickly. And it’s not going to have much of an impact a day or two down the road like extra emissions from tailpipes or something like that.”
But the popular show is releasing particles into the air, like magnesium and phosphorous.
“It’s not healthy,” said Call. “I mean, if you’re in the immediate vicinity, then they are particles and we know that pm2.5 isn’t good for you and has some negative health effects.”
Downtown Alliance, which organizes the EVE event, would change the way they celebrate, if the public is behind it.
“If it’s something that’s important to our community and to our council then it’s something we’ll absolutely discuss looking at next year,” said Nick Como, the group’s director of communications.
Rather than pay for the fireworks, it’s possible they could do a laser or lights show.
“There’s a balance there,” Como said, “And we’ll try to strike what the right balance is between pragmatism and responsibility.”