Smoke From Big Wildfires Causing Unhealthy Air Quality in Utah

Aug 10, 2018, 6:34 PM | Updated: 8:50 pm

UTAH COUNTY, Utah – Smoke from big wildfires across the west, including several in Utah, continues to make the air in many parts of the state unhealthy to breathe. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of places we can go to get away from it.

Air quality has been miserable this week on the Wasatch Front, especially in Utah County where two wildfires sent a lot of smoke into the air. This is one of the smokiest years in the last two decades. But, we’ve seen a lot of smoke in many past summers, too.

“It really does vary from day to day, depending on which way the wind is blowing and where the fires are located,” said Bryce Bird, air quality director for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

To many people in Utah, this may seem like the smokiest summer ever. So, we looked at the data with Bird. He showed us smoke pollution data going back 17 years, and all Utah monitoring stations going back two years.

“I think we have a short memory,” he said. “As we look at the actual air monitoring data we know that we had many days last summer that were impacted by smoke, and that trend has gone on over time.”

Last summer, at this time, and in September there were extended spikes in the smoke pollution, PM 2.5 and ozone pollution enhanced by the smoke.

“We saw several smoke events last year,” Bird said, “some lasting a week or more, and some lasting multiple weeks.”

Based on air quality readings on the KSL air quality network, and the Utah Air app we took a drive to find blue sky. Utah County was in the red this morning, and has had the worst air in the state for a couple of days because of two nearby wildfires. So, we headed north to Cache County where there was a green air quality reading this morning.

Along the Wasatch Front: smoky air, with little blue sky visible. In Cache County, at least today, much less smoke. Still some haze, but, much more pleasant. You can see the mountains across the valley.

“We are moderately clean. But, down along the Wasatch Front we’re not,” said Dr. Randy Martin, an associate professor at Utah State University in Logan, who studies air quality.

“It all just depends on ultimately where the wind is going to blow it, whether it’s going to be cleaner here or down there,” he said, referring to the Wasatch Front. “More than likely it’s going to be cleaner up here because we’re not as close to the fires.”

With smoke pollution, he says there’s no guarantee that cleaner air will last. In the winter, when our particulate pollution is trapped by a temperature inversion, we can head up to the mountains to get away. That’s not the case with smoky air in the summer.

“As long as we’ve got these regional fires, and not the ground level inversions, wherever you go it could be bad,” said Martin.

So, if you’re looking for a better place to breathe, use these resources for air quality: the KSL Air Quality network on the KSL weather page, and the Utah Air app.


KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

The suspect motor home that abducted a woman. (Credit: South Salt Lake Police)...
Michael Houck

Police cancel search for possible abduction suspect

South Salt Lake Police are searching for a motorhome that possibly abducted a woman Saturday evening.
19 hours ago
Michael Houck

Bush fire spreads to carport and sheds, no injuries

A brush fire destroyed a carport and two sheds Saturday evening, no one was hurt, and no homes were threatened.
19 hours ago
The semi that's blocking traffic on I-80. (Credit: UDOT)...
Michael Houck

Semi tips, blocks traffic on I-80 in Summit County

A semitrailer tipped over on Interstate 80, reducing eastbound traffic to one lane.
19 hours ago
Navajo Nations Veterans Administration Director James Zwierlein, Navajo Nation President Jonathan N...
NOEL LYN SMITH Farmington Daily Times

Navajo Nation authorized to file benefit claims for veterans

The Navajo Nation Veterans Administration was formally recognized by the head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for being the first tribal nation program to receive accreditation to help veterans submit federal benefits claims directly to the VA.
19 hours ago
Police responded to a shooting at 1485 South Major Street Sunday morning. (KSL TV)...
Cary J. Schwanitz and Michael Locklear

Salt Lake Police investigate shooting at 1485 South Major Street Sunday morning.

A 20-year-old man is in critical condition after he was shot early Sunday near 1485 S. Major Street in Salt Lake City.
19 hours ago
Teens playing with fireworks started a dumpster fire in Murray Saturday night. (Mountain Green Fire...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

Teens playing with fireworks start dumpster fire in Morgan County

Firefighters said some teens setting off fireworks started a small dumpster fire in Murray Saturday night.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Smoke From Big Wildfires Causing Unhealthy Air Quality in Utah