SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Environmental officials predicting worsening air quality for Utah’s Wasatch Front over the weekend are urging people to avoid driving and forgo setting off fireworks.
Pollution levels by Thursday in Utah and Davis Counties were high enough to be considered unhealthy for sensitive populations, while Salt Lake County pollution levels were in the red range, which is considered generally unhealthy for everyone.
A malfunctioning monitor in Weber County stopped officials from measuring air there but it didn’t appear much better, according to Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Donna Spangler.
Pollutant levels in all those urban areas were expected to increase Friday as cold, stagnant air will trap the smog over cities penned-in by mountains. It will hang there until a storm blows in, but that’s not expected until late Sunday.
Until then, the amount of pollution in the air roughly doubles every day during the winter inversions, according to The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/2inbiiY).
“It keeps filling up, unless you have something to drain it. If people continue to drive and not pay attention, it’s just going to get worse,” Spangler said.
To keep the haze from worsening, air quality officials have banned wood burning along the Wasatch Front and are encouraging people to avoid driving, idling cars or setting off fireworks, all of which worsen air quality.
Spangler said anyone clearing snow should use a shovel instead of a snow blower and those celebrating the New Year should reconsider fireworks. Smoke from fireworks on past holidays has pushed air quality levels into very unhealthy zones. The official New Year’s Eve celebration put on by Salt Lake City has not included fireworks for several years out of pollution concerns.
“I don’t want to be a killjoy,” Spangler said, “but if you care about the air, you can hold off on those fireworks.”