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

Doctors work on a liver transplant at Intermountain Health hospital...
Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com 

Intermountain Health breaks organ transplant record again

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Health announced Tuesday that it broke its own record for adult organ transplants during 2022, reaching 300 donations KSL.com reported. The organization thanked its donors and caregivers in a statement Tuesday for a fourth record-breaking year for the transplant program. Organ transplants last year included 104 livers, 159 kidneys, 29 […]
17 hours ago
Madison Swenson

West Valley City family displaced due to fire

A Utah family has been displaced after part of their home was damaged in a fire.
17 hours ago
The booking photo for Aaron Michael Zeman, also known as Tadashi Kura Kojima. ( Hall County Departm...
Michael Houck

Layton Amber Alert suspect charged with kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a minor

The Arizona man who is suspected of kidnapping a Layton boy has been charged with multiple felonies Tuesday. 
17 hours ago
a soccer ball is kicked into the goal net...
Adam Small, KSL NewsRadio

Non-public-school students could more easily play sports under a new bill

A bill working its way through the Utah Legislature could open the door for online, private, charter, and homeschool students to play sports outside of their home district.
17 hours ago
FILE (Utah Highway Patrol)...
Madison Swenson

South Jordan woman killed in head-on crash

A 23-year-old woman has died from her injuries following a head-on crash in Cache County.
17 hours ago
(Iron County Search and Rescue/Facebook)...
Eliza Pace

Location, car found after officials seek public input on a video from a missing man

A car of a missing man was found after hundreds responded to help identify the location of a video of a remote location.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Smoke From Big Wildfires Causing Unhealthy Air Quality in Utah