Bad air spikes when fireworks boom

Utah -- Fireworks cause air quality to spike to unhealthy levels down the Wasatch Front and beyond, according to Utah Division of Air Quality.

Utah's most predictable environmental hazard did not fail to appear again in 2018.

At 11 p.m. on Independence Day, air quality spiked to unhealthy levels up and down the Wasatch Front and beyond.

Monitoring stations run by the Utah Division of Air Quality show the clear trend.

"We see big spikes during fireworks. For that one hour average, you're seeing spikes that are far greater than anything during a wintertime inversion," said Jared Mendenhall with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, refering specifically to pm 2.5, the designation of particles so tiny the bodies defenses can't keep them from being breathed into the lungs.

The most extreme example: the Weber County monitoring station showed levels reaching 405 micrograms of pm 2.5 per cubic meter, compared with a level below 10 micrograms just two hours before. 405 is considered "hazardous," which is the most dangerous of all designations in the system used by the DAQ.

The fireworks pollution is short-lived, meaning that people with lung and heart problems can avoid most of the risk by staying indoors when fireworks are set off.

The continuing hazard in the summer is ozone pollution, which is increasing because of the sun and heat.

Mendenhall hopes Utahns will choose to drive less and use gasoline powered lawn equipment less during the hottest time of the year.

He said the DAQ also recommends that families choose to celebrate Independence and Pioneer Days by going to large fireworks shows instead of setting off their own fireworks.