WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa -- A rise in particle pollution is typical on the Fourth of July, but officials from the Department of Natural Resources said the Des Moines area saw an unusual spike in 2017.
The DNR released a statement Wednesday, July 5th that said fine particle pollution started around dusk on Tuesday, July 4th, and stuck around overnight. It wasn't expected to clear the area until around noon.
An air quality report generated by the Environmental Protection Agency listed the area as having "moderate" air quality. Having a "moderate" status means air quality is "acceptable" but might have negative affects on people who are more sensitive to pollution.
A member of the DNR's air quality staff explained that pollution spikes are detected in many places on July Fourth, but after midnight the levels will typically start to fall. That wasn't the case for the Des Moines area this year; those heightened levels lasted through the night.
Davenport did see some spikes, the staffer explained, but fell back to normal levels in a reasonable amount of time.
John Gering, an environmental specialist with Iowa DNR, said during the time period between dusk and midnight on July 4, particulate matter in the air around Davenport rose above the 35 microgram-per cubic meter threshold deemed "safe" by the EPA.