Fireworks smoke causes air quality advisories in three Iowa cities

Cedar Rapids and Iowa City do not exceed air pollution limits

'Go Go Gorilla' and 'Space Banger' fireworks are seen for sale at the Iowa Fireworks tent on Bowling Street SW in Cedar
‘Go Go Gorilla’ and ‘Space Banger’ fireworks are seen for sale at the Iowa Fireworks tent on Bowling Street SW in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Smoke from fireworks and wind-free evenings over the July 4 weekend led to air quality advisories for Des Moines, Davenport and Muscatine, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources reported.

Des Moines recorded a 24-hour fine particle level of 123.5 micrograms per cubic meter Saturday — more than three times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard of 35 mg/m3. Davenport and Muscatine monitors recorded 46.9 and 42.3 mg/m3 respectively, the DNR reported Monday.

Des Moines air quality still exceeded safe standards Sunday with 52.9 mg/m3.

All sites were measuring below the federal standard Monday morning.

By comparison, Cedar Rapids 24-hour particle level averages were 27.3 and 29 for Friday and Saturday respectively. The city had spikes of up to 102 mg/m3, the DNR reported. Iowa City’s 24-hour averages were 11.7 on both Friday and Saturday.

“I am not certain whether monitor placement, lack of significant fireworks, or meteorological conditions kept the levels down in those cities,” said Todd Russell, a DNR environmental specialist.

Iowa has seen air quality standard exceedances over July 4 holidays in past years, but it is infrequent, Russell said. Many Iowa cities that usually hold public fireworks canceled those shows this year because of the risk of spreading COVID-19 in large crowds.

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