Utahns Choke in Smoke from Western States

According to IQAir.com, the PM2.5 concentration in Salt Lake City air is currently four times above the World Health Organization’s exposure recommendation. Thirty-three wildfires in Idaho, California, Oregon and Washington have brought unhealthy air quality into Utah. The National Weather Service predicts the smoke will get worse, due to California’s largest fire of the year, the Beckwourth Complex fire north of Lake Tahoe, and the Bootleg fire in Oregon. The smoke from wildfires could cause dangerously high concentrations of particulates in our populated areas.

Photo: ABC4 News

According to the 2019 State of the Air report, the Salt Lake City area, which includes Provo and Orem, ranked 7th out of 217 metropolitan areas for worst 24-hour particle pollution, and 11th out of 228 metropolitan areas for worst ozone pollution. These ratings place Salt Lake City in a similar position to Los Angeles for 24-hour PM2.5 and Denver for ozone pollution.

Brigham Young University researchers found that Utah air pollution reduces the average resident’s life by anywhere from 1.1 to 3.5 years (Errigo I., et al. (2020). Human health and the economic costs of air pollution in Utah.) Excessive air pollution is particularly harmful to sensitive groups, including children, the elderly, and those with heart and lung disease like COPD, asthma, and lung cancer. 

How to protect yourself from air pollution? Health experts recommend:

Air purifier (home and car)

Close your windows to avoid dirty outdoor air

Sensitive groups wear masks outdoors

Everyone reduce outdoor exercise

For latest PM2.5 monitoring, go to US Forest Service website: https://tools.airfire.org/monitoring/v4#!/?category=PM2.5_nowcast&centerlat=42&centerlon=-95&zoom=4