Pioneer Day fireworks dazzle, and raise pollution data levels

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 12:49 PM

OGDEN — State air quality specialists didn’t need to be in Ogden Wednesday night to know that there was a huge fireworks show.

Apparently, in the neighborhood around 228 East 32nd St., people have a lot of money to burn on fireworks, the officials said.

According to data collected from a monitor at a station, there was three times as many particulates per cubic meter in the air there than any other monitor in the state. Charts from the monitor showed 164.3 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter at both midnight July 24 and 1 a.m. July 25.

“We’ve always called an exceptional event when we call in our data” to the Environmental Protection Agency, said Ken Symons, an environmental scientist with the Utah Division of Air Quality, talking about the Ogden site’s readings on that day each year.

The scientist said the annual high readings there have drawn enough of the interest of the staff in his department to make them want to monitor the area with a video camera or to visit the site next year.

“It’s exceeded its standard quite a bit,” said Donna Spangler, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Air Quality about the readings for Ogden.

But Symons said he doesn’t believe that residents in the area should be extremely concerned about their air at that location on that date.

“I think it’s just where the site happens to be located,” he said about the high readings. “If we set up our station at BYU Stadium of Fire or Sugarhouse Park, I bet it would take the needle there too.”

While Ogden’s Pioneer Day holiday readings were 164 of particulate micrograms per cubic meter, the Box Elder station’s spike during the fireworks was 55.

The stations at Cache County, Utah County and Salt Lake City/Davis County all read 35 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter at the height of the fireworks Wednesday night.

Ogden also was high July 4 but not as high as it was July 24. Symons said on Independence Day, Ogden’s readings were 63 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter. Some other monitors in the state came in at 24 and 20.

But Symons said the spikes in the readings are only on hourly reports. He said those readings are much different when averaged over a 24-hour period.

The average for the Ogden monitor for July 25 was 31.9 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter. That number dropped to 12.8 24 hours later.

Symons said the site is closely monitored by scientists at other times of the year as well.

During the winter, he said, ozone and other particulates have been high at that location.

It is for this reason that air quality managers do not move the station away from those who set off fireworks nearby each year, he said.

“If a station has a lot of exceedents, they want us to keep it there,” he said.

“The station needs to stay in place for a long period of time.”

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