Utah’s New Air Quality Alerts
Say goodbye to the basic Green, Yellow and Red air quality days!
Utah’s Division of Air Quality has updated their air quality alert system to more clearly and precisely communicate about action days and health alerts related to Utah’s air quality.
1. The Action Forecast
The action forecast notifies the public of voluntary and mandatory actions Utahns should follow accordingly to current air pollution levels.
Voluntary action days indicate that residents should not use wood or coal burning stoves or fireplaces. Residents are also asked to limit vehicle use by consolidating trips and utilizing other strategies to drive less. Industry is asked to optimize operating conditions to minimize emissions.
Mandatory action days indicate that wood or coal burning stoves/fireplaces must not be used. Residents are asked to continue driving less and industry is asked to continue optimizing operating conditions to reduce emissions.
2. The Health Forecast
The new health forecast system is designed to help Utahns determine how the highest pollution level of the day will affect them. The health forecast has a direct impact on physical activity recommendations to help minimize the effects of air pollution on your health.
Ratings on the Air Quality Index range from good (green), moderate (yellow), unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange) to unhealthy for everyone (red). Let’s hope we don’t get acquainted with very unhealthy (purple) or hazardous (maroon).
What You Can Do
We all have a role to play to limit our impact on poor air quality while protecting the health of ourselves and our families.
Here are a few of our favorite recommendations:
- Carpool to work, activities and community events.
- Skip a trip. Leave the voluntary car trips for when the air quality clears up.
- Stay home. Telework or e-travel (i.e. order a movie or shop online).
- Ride transit. Make your trip an adventure by taking TRAX or your local bus to your destination.
Did you know that your vehicle emits two thirds of the pollution for your entire car trip in the first two minutes? The key to helping limit your impact is to avoid what is known as “cold starts” when your catalytic converter is not running at peak efficiency. Trip chaining (chaining your vehicle trips together) before your car cools down is a great way to reduce your emissions without any inconvenience.