Wildfires In Utah, Western U.S. Polluting Air Across Wasatch Front

Sep 9, 2019, 4:45 PM | Updated: 8:04 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Air quality across the Wasatch Front was moderately unhealthy due to smoke from wildfires in Utah, Nevada and California.

Near several fires burning in central Utah, air quality was even worse Monday.

“Well, it looks pretty bad,” said Gretchen Huff as she took a baby in her care for a stroll around the Utah State Capitol.  “We work up on the hill. I could see the smog – I guess it’s smoke.”

After record-setting heat over the last few weeks, temperatures were much cooler in northern Utah today.

But it was harder for some to enjoy this cooldown as wildfire smoke polluted the air across the Wasatch Front. 

“I probably wouldn’t go jogging, if the air quality was really bad,” Huff said. “I try to be cautious because I am a nanny and looking out for the little ones.”

The KSL Air Quality Network showed moderately unhealthy air throughout Monday. The Utah Division of Air Quality reported similarly-elevated levels of PM 2.5 and forecasted moderately unhealthy air over the next two days. It’s the same particulate pollution we see during winter inversions in Utah.

“We’re starting to see elevated levels,” said Utah Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Jared Mendenhall. “We’re expecting it for the next couple of days to be in what we call the moderate range.”

The pollution is bad for everyone to breathe, but it is most problematic for people with asthma and other lung and heart diseases.

“It’s going to be hazy and kind of ugly outside,” Mendenhall said. “But, if you are a resident with a heart or lung condition, you’re going to want to be aware of how your body is reacting to it.”

According to KSL TV meteorologists, a storm Wednesday should help clear the air – as long as it doesn’t start new fires with lightning strikes and bring in more smoke from California or Nevada.

“It’s going to look a lot worse than it is,” Mendenhall said. “Again, we’re only expecting it to get into the mid-moderate range. This isn’t green air by any stretch of the imagination. But, we’re not hitting those high, unhealthy levels.”

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Wildfires In Utah, Western U.S. Polluting Air Across Wasatch Front