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Air quality

Visit the Utah Air Quality Index to see current air quality conditions in Utah.
Air quality measures how much pollution is in the air.
Air pollutants are any biological, physical, or chemical particles found in ambient air that are harmful to the environment and human health. Pollutants can come from many everyday human activities like driving a car and using wood-burning fireplaces. They can also come from environmental sources like wildfires and dust storms. The greatest contributors to poor air quality are emissions and by-products of industrial processes from factories, refineries, and power plants.
Poor air quality can be harmful.
According to the American Lung Association, adults breathe more than 2,000 gallons of air every day. Breathing polluted air can lead to coughing, shortness of breath, and even heart attack or stroke. Breathing polluted air can also worsen existing lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Criteria air pollutants are found all over the US and are the main drivers of poor air quality.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for and regulates 6 common air pollutants, known as criteria air pollutants. They are particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and lead (Pb).

PM2.5 and ozone are 2 major air pollutants of concern in Utah.
PM2.5 is a mix of small solid particles and liquid droplets measuring 2.5 micrometers or smaller in diameter. In comparison, the diameter of a single human hair is between 50 and 70 micrometers wide. The small size of the particle is directly linked with its ability to harm human health. The smaller the particle, the easier it can pass through the nose and throat and enter deep into the lungs. Some particles can even enter your bloodstream. Once inhaled, PM2.5 can adversely affect the heart and lungs and cause serious damage and health problems.

Ground-level ozone, not to be confused with the atmosphere's protective ozone layer, is a hazardous air pollutant created when emissions from cars, power plants, refineries, and other sources react to sunlight. It is the main component of the smog found in cities, which can also be blown by the wind into rural communities. Breathing ground-level ozone can lead to chest pain, coughing, and throat irritation, and can worsen respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis.
90.5% of Utahns live in counties that meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM2.5.
Prior to 2010, fewer than half of the population lived in counties that met the standards for PM2.5 levels.

In 2020, 11 Utah counties had at least 1 day where the 8-hour average ozone concentration was above the National Ambient Air Quality Standard.
Data on ozone levels are only available where air monitors exist and mainly monitor ozone during the summer months.

In 2019, 75% of days monitored for the Air Quality Index were rated "good."
Twenty-three percent of days monitored were considered moderate. There were also 63 days where the Air Quality Index was unhealthy for sensitive groups, however, this accounts for only 1% of days monitored.

Visit the Utah Department of Environmental Quality- Air Quality Division's website to learn more about the six criteria pollutants and Utah air quality.
Poor air quality affects everyone, but some people are more susceptible to its effects, including:
  • People with lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • People with heart disease or diabetes
  • Children and teens
  • Older adults
  • People who live or work in areas with greater exposure to air pollutants
  • People who work or exercise outdoors
You can help reduce air pollution and improve air quality.
Even though we may assume our individual choices do not affect air quality, they do.

Here are some steps you can take right now:
  • Turn off lights and appliances when they aren't in use to save energy
  • Carpool, bike, walk, or use public transit when possible
  • Recycle paper, plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminium cans
  • Shop with a reusable bag to avoid using paper and plastic bags

On days when high ozone levels are expected:
  • Choose a cleaner commute option-carpool, use public transit, or telecommute
  • Reduce the number of vehicle trips for errands
  • Avoid excessive vehicle idling

On days when high particulate matter levels are expected:
  • Reduce the number of trips you take in your car
  • Reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use
  • Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment

Program websites


Air quality conditions


Select reports


Resources

  • EJSCREEN Tool- EJSCREEN is a mapping tool provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It combines environmental and demographic information about environmental justice topics. Relevant to air quality, EJSCREEN provides 6 air quality data topics:
    • Lifetime cancer risk from inhalation of air toxics
    • Air toxics respiratory hazard index (ratio of exposure concentration to health-based reference concentration)
    • Diesel particulate matter level in air
    • PM2.5 levels in air
    • Ozone summer seasonal average
    • Count of vehicles at major roads within 500 meters
  • EnviroAtlas home page- EnviroAtlas is a tool provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EnviroAtlas provides interactive resources to explore the benefits people receive from nature, or "ecosystem goods and services." It uses 7 broad categories to organize its information and data: clean air; clean and plentiful water; natural hazard mitigation; climate stabilization; recreation, culture, and aesthetics; food, fuel, and materials; and biodiversity conservation.
  • The Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Utah Tracking receives air quality data from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality Division and from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

View complete metadata for PM2.5 and Ozone datasets and AQI dataset .
The Utah Department of Health and Human Services Utah APPLETREE program evaluates and responds to environmental public health issues in Utah. Click on the links below to be redirected to recent health assessments related to air quality in Utah.
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site (http://epht.health.utah.gov). The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sat, 01 October 2022 8:09:19 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: http://epht.health.utah.gov ".

Content updated: Fri, 22 Jul 2022 10:32:22 MDT