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Health, Science & Environment

SLCo Health Department Expands Air Quality Authority

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Credit:Flickr Creative Commons

The Salt Lake County Health Department has voted to expand its authority by further restricting burning of wood, charcoal and pellets in stoves and fireplaces.

The Department announced Thursday passage of a regulation that bans burning on days the Utah Division of Air Quality designates as either mandatory or voluntary air action days. Dr. Royal Delegge is environmental health director for the Salt Lake County Health Department. He says these types of fires are a significant contributor to the valley’s inversion problem.

“Burning solid fuel releases those particulates into the air and when we have an inversion or an inversion is building here in the valley,” says Delegge, “they’ve got no place else to go and we have a million people here who are breathing it in.”

Delegge says the additional restriction initially focuses on education.

“Hopefully when people understand what adverse impact their activities have, they will be good neighbors and cease those during the worst periods of the inversions.”

Delegge says for this year, someone from the county will contact the target of a complaint and provide information on legal use of fireplaces on air action days.  He says fines for violations are set to go into effect in 2016 and would comply with state laws.

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