Northern Utah set for second smoky air day

Aug 24, 2018, 9:36 AM
Smoky air caused a number of Air Quality monitoring stations to register AQI in the "red" or unhealthy range.

SALT LAKE CITY — Smoky air is expected to cause problems for people who are sensitive to poor air quality for a second day in a row in northern Utah.

Thursday, KSL.com’s Air Quality Index showed many locations in the “red” or unhealthy range, with an air quality index reading of over 150. Beijing, the capital of China notorious for its air pollution, was actually better than Salt Lake City with an AQI in the “orange” range at 58.

Bryce Bird, the director of Utah’s Division of Air Quality, blamed the smoke fouling the air along the Wasatch Front on western wildfires.

“Ozone levels are also enhanced by the smoke,” Bird says, “so the precursors that form the secondary pollutant, ozone, are also opponents of the smoke that’s coming into the areas.”

In other words, the smoke not only adds particulate pollution to the air in the Salt Lake Valley, but it also contributes to ozone pollution.

Obviously, Bird says, there’s not much we can do about wildfires in other states or the wind directions that might push that smoke into Utah. However, he recommends doing what you can to keep from adding to the pollution. Those measures include limiting driving and not burning wood.

Early Friday, the AQI was already “orange” for many areas north and east of Salt Lake City, and some spots had individual readings in the “red” or unhealthy range. The forecast predicted most of the region would stay in the “orange” range on Friday, with some isolated spots again spiking into the “red” with smoky air.

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Northern Utah set for second smoky air day