June 15, 2008

Status of Fireworks Displays and Fireworks Regulation in the South Coast Air Basin

We find this report below very interesting and see it as a good first step. I see no reason why lawnmowers and light bulbs should be regulated for greenhouse gas problems (and other toxic air pollution issues) but not some of the most polluting stuff out there: fireworks. Also what do you think the effect is of everyone in the country shooting off backyard fireworks all during the month of July every year? Any idiot could surmise that the combined environmental detriment of all those backyard fireworks far outpaces the damages from one these theme park's 15 minute pro fireworks displays. Yet there is no investigation by AQMD or EPA. Hmmmm. Also the other thing that we like to point out is most other sources of pollution have a real and tangible benefit. For example cars help move people around. What tangible benefit do fireworks have other than excite pyros and enrich the Chinese manufactures and the US distributors of this "perchlorate porn"? Oh that's right it helps the kiddies buy new baseball uniforms...well never mind then....

We also find this gem of a code section in the report linked at the end of this article:

AQMD Rule 402; Nuisance & California Health and Safety Code sec. 41700-Nuisance
– "No Person Shall Discharge Pollutants, prohibit any person from discharging from any source whatsoever such quantities of air contaminants or other material which cause injury, detriment, nuisance, or annoyance to any considerable number of persons or to the public, or which endanger the comfort, repose, health or safety of any such persons or the public, or which cause, or have a natural tendency to cause, injury or damage to business or property. The only exemption contained in Rule 401/H&S Code 41700 is for odors emanating from agricultural operations necessary for the growing of crops or the raising of fowl or animals."


White Paper on Status of Fireworks Displays and Fireworks Regulation in the South Coast Air Basin and Recommendation to Seek Letter of Agreement from Disneyland Resort


Various theme parks throughout Southern California routinely conduct nighttime ground level and aerial fireworks and pyrotechnic displays as part of their public entertainment programs. AQMD Rule 219 specifically exempts from written permitting requirements pyrotechnic equipment, special effects, or fireworks paraphernalia equipment that is used for entertainment purposes. However, fireworks and pyrotechnic displays are subject to AQMD visible emissions and public nuisance prohibitory rules. Staff has prepared a white paper that reviews complaint history regarding fireworks displays; and describes AB2588 Risk Assessment, AQMD particulate sampling analysis results, and current and proposed strategies at one theme park to reduce emissions from fireworks displays. The white paper also provides options developed by staff for the Board's consideration, regarding fireworks displays and/or potential AQMD regulations or activities to further mitigate emissions from fireworks displays and equipment.


Stationary Source, January 23 and June 25, 2004, Reviewed and Recommended Alternative Action (Status Report Only)


1. Receive and file white paper.

2. Approve staff recommendations to:

a) Pursue a Letter of Agreement with Disneyland Resorts to continue development and implementation of alternative and new technologies to reduce total emissions and smoke resulting from fireworks and pyrotechnic displays; and
b) Report back to the Board annually regarding smoke reduction progress at the end of the next two summer seasons.

Barry R. Wallerstein, D.Env.
Executive Officer


Historically, AQMD and predecessor local county air pollution control agencies have exempted from permitting requirements pyrotechnic equipment, special effects, or fireworks paraphernalia. AQMD Rule 219 - Exemptions from Written Permit Requirements specifically exempts pyrotechnic equipment from permit requirements. AQMD prohibitory Rule 444 - Open Burning, also provides exemption from rule provisions for various fireworks and pyrotechnics activities. However, AQMD Rules 401 - Visible Emissions, and 402 – Nuisance, do not provide exemption for emissions from fireworks displays or pyrotechnics used in the creation of special effects at theme parks.

Disneyland Resorts, Anaheim, has used both aerial and ground level fireworks displays and pyrotechnics special effects as part of various public entertainment programs since 1956. AQMD has received seventy-three (73) public complaints alleging smoke and fallout due to fireworks from 1991 to present. AQMD has investigated these complaints but has been unable to substantiate the occurrence of any air quality violations as the number of complainants on any one occasion has not yet reached the threshold necessary to establish the legal requirement for a “considerable number” of affected persons.

In January 2002, Mr. William Fitzgerald, a board member representing “Anaheim Home Owners Maintaining Their Environment (HOME)” expressed concerns to the AQMD Governing Board regarding possible adverse air quality and health impacts resulting from exposure to emissions from multiple fireworks displays at Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim. AQMD further investigated this complaint and reviewed Disneyland Resorts’ AB2588 Health Risk Assessments of which the first was submitted in 1991 and subsequently updated in 1998 and 2000. The last two updates included emissions from all fireworks related activities conducted at the facility. These updated assessments showed that the facility Cancer Risks and Non-Cancer Hazard Index values were well below any notification requirements of AB2588 or the action levels of Rule 1402 - Control of Toxic Air Contaminants from Existing Sources.

Additionally, AQMD conducted air particulate sampling downwind of Disneyland Resort during fireworks display activities in March and June of 2002. The collected samples were processed in the AQMD Laboratory and the results were reviewed by the AQMD’s Health Effects Officer. The review showed no exceedances of the State’s Reference Exposure Levels (RELs).

To gain a broader perspective of fireworks displays in the South Coast Air Basin, AQMD staff also evaluated the fireworks display activities of four other Southern California entertainment theme parks and two professional baseball parks. When compared to Disneyland Resorts, these facilities conduct fewer fireworks displays and therefore use less pyrotechnics materials in their shows. Also, AQMD’s review found no public complaints regarding fireworks displays at these parks.

In August 2003, Mr. Fitzgerald expressed his concerns again to the AQMD Governing Board. In response to Mr. Fitzgerald’s subsequent concerns about emissions from Disneyland’s fireworks the AQMD Board directed AQMD staff to present an overview of the fireworks activities at Disneyland to the Stationary Source Committee. On January 23, 2004, and subsequently on June 25, 2004, AQMD staff made presentations on “Disneyland Fireworks Show and Air Quality Issues” to the Stationary Source Committee. The overview provided a historical summary of Disneyland’s aerial fireworks displays, complaint history, air quality concerns, AQMD actions to date, applicable AQMD rules, review of Disneyland’s AB2588 Health Risk Assessments, AQMD’s 2002 Disneyland sampling project and results, and Disneyland’s fireworks modifications and projected research to reduce visible emissions and odors. At the January 23, 2004 meeting, the Stationary Source Committee recommended that this information be presented to the full AQMD Governing Board for their review.

In preparation for the Board review, AQMD staff prepared the attached white paper “Status of Fireworks Displays and Fireworks Regulations in the South Coast Air Basin.” The report is a comprehensive review of AQMD’s regulations with respect to fireworks displays, complaint history, AQMD investigations and actions, and review of Disneyland Resorts and other entertainment park facilities’ fireworks activities. The report includes updated Disneyland Resorts information regarding new fireworks air launch technology and future low-smoke and ultra-low smoke explosives developments, which decrease the use of black powder, resulting in reduced ground-level visible smoke and odors. As a result of the research and experimental work accomplished by Disneyland Resort, their proposed 2004 fireworks net explosives are reduced by 33 percent in weight compared to material used in 2003.

Future Considerations

Based on the information available to date and as discussed in the white paper, AQMD staff provides the following response options for the Board’s consideration:

1. Continue to monitor local progress towards the development and use of air launch systems and low- and ultra-low smoke technologies with no change to current AQMD rule requirements and exemptions.
2. Initiate rule amendment activities that would remove the current AQMD Rule 219 exemption and require permitting of various fireworks and pyrotechnics related equipment and activities.
3. Initiate rule amendment activities to remove the current Rule 444 exemption and require the reporting and management of smoke related emissions from the detonation of fireworks and pyrotechnics related materials.
4. Enter into a Letter of Agreement with Disneyland Resorts to continue development and implementation of alternative and new technologies to reduce total emissions and smoke resulting from fireworks and pyrotechnic displays.

Staff Recommendation

Staff proposes 1) to seek a Letter of Agreement in which Disneyland Resorts commits to the continued use and ongoing evaluation and refinement of air launching technologies for aerial fireworks displays as well as continued research into the use and availability of low-smoke and ultra-low smoke explosives for use in their aerial fireworks displays with the goal of phased implementation of such technologies beginning in 2004 and through 2005-2007; and monitor the progress of these smoke reduction efforts and report back to the Board annually at the end of the next two summer seasons regarding the status of these efforts and their success in reducing firework emissions impact on Anaheim residents. However, it should be noted that the Stationary Source Committee recommended an annual status report only without a Letter of Agreement.

White Paper on Status of Fireworks Displays and Fireworks Regulations in the South Coast Air Basin

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA
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