Air pollution and fireworks don’t mix, SLC councilman says

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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.”


  • Eric Anderson

    Just once I’d like to meet a “liberal” who fits the definition of “liberal.”

    Why are the incapable of minding their own business? We’re not going to live or die based on a few people setting off fireworks. The real issue is that the fireworks give people a little bit of joy for a few mintues, and joy is anathema to a liberal.

  • Bill Houston

    I drove from Cache Valley to Salt Lake City on Christmas day to visit Family, and as I drove through Davis County I noticed all three of the Refineries running full speed ahead. No one seem’s to notice all the pollutant’s it poor’s into this valley yet they complain about running your car’s. Sure I admit every little bit help’s but come on look at where we are today and where these oil refineries will have us if they expand and start producing double what there is now! Think about that!

  • Clorissa

    So if wood burning stoves are causing a lot of the bad air quality here Utah what about states like Oregon and Washington where almost every house has a wood burning stove? Maybe instead of driving around doing all their shopping and complaining they could plant a few more trees to help.

  • Desiree Turner

    If we’re so worried about fireworks and wood burning stove as being the worst things for Utah air… Why is no one making a fuss about all the cigarette smoke and second hand smoke? 40,000 people smoking 3+ cigarettes a day seems far worse than burning wood here and there.

  • Clorissa

    Yes many people smoke here, again you will find more people smoking in other states. Where have you Ben there is always a fuss about cigarettes here in Utah, they just raised the legal age to 21 for buying tobacco, seems to me if you can not be considered old enough to make the decision to smoke you should not be old enough to carry a gun or go into the military.

  • Joel

    Why doesn’t Utah take that pathetic 2 million dollars that they are using to fight Marriage equality and put it to fix the air quality….

  • Christopher Beebe

    In some ways I agree. When air pollution on New Year’s Eve is so bad that you can see it – as it was this time, detonating fireworks just adds to it. Instead, do a laser or light show.

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