Utah officials seek exemption on fireworks

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Sept. 24 2011 10:13 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah officials are seeking exemptions from the federal government's air quality regulations for pollution spikes caused by Fourth of July fireworks.

Two reports filed by the state Division of Air Quality request that excessive pollution on July 4 in Ogden in 2010 and 2011 not count against the state in an annual tally kept by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The state is also asking for an exemption in Cottonwood Heights on July 4, 2010.

The Fourth of July should instead be considered an "exceptional event" under EPA guidelines, the DAQ said.

The EPA grants exemptions for spikes in air pollution caused by things such as wildfires, volcano eruptions and firework displays during cultural events.

"Utahns are exuberant in their celebration of independence," the DAW said in its report. "Fireworks are a part of most community celebrations."

Levels of fine-particulate pollution, which can be caused by some of the chemicals used in fireworks, more than doubled in Ogden from July 3 to July 4 in 2011, and dropped by almost half on July 5. The only day that exceeded the federal limits was July 4.

The jump in pollution was expected and the agency issued public warnings around the holiday, the DAQ said. The fine-particulate pollution is often caused by soot and is more common during the winter because of people using fireplaces. The DAQ is currently accepting public comment on the requested exemptions for 2011 through Oct. 17. The division will then accept comments on the 2010 exemptions through Nov. 17

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