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Health, Science & Environment

November Marks Switch in Air Quality Concern to Particulates

In the month of November, winter inversions start to return to the Wasatch Front and Northern Utah valleys. That means particulate matter from wood-burning can get trapped by the mountains. Donna Spangler is spokesperson for the Utah Division of Air Quality. She says awareness is the key to healthier air.

“There have been scientific studies, at the "U" for instance that Kerry Kelly has done, that show wood burning is much more than we thought a contributor to the particulate pollution,” says Spangler, “and when you live in an urban environment where we’re close together, burning wood is going to impact your neighbor.”

Spangler says the state legislature has given the DAQ authority to issue fines on Mandatory Action days.

“We’re trying to be as proactive as we can. We know that an inversion sets up once the snow storm leaves.”

Spangler says most residents use their fireplaces and stoves for ambiance so adjusting their use during inversions shouldn’t be that difficult. She says the free Utah Air app is the best way to see current air quality and forecasts anytime.

The Salt Lake County Health Department’s restrictions on wood stoves and fireplaces are even greater than the state’s. The county bans wood burning on Voluntary Action days. A similar measure failed to pass the Utah Legislature last winter.

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