Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
Jed Boal ReportingAs the haze thickens in Utah valleys, air quality is moderate and getting worse. That raises the question: why doesn't the state go ahead and designate a "yellow" or "red" day before the pollution levels climb any further?
There's no simple explanation, but the Utah Division of Air Quality is eager for all of us to support the red light-green light program and do what we can to reduce pollution every day.
From above Salt Lake you can see smog thicken as warm air aloft keeps a lid on the valley. Pollution is intensifying, but slowly.
Donna Kemp Spangler, Department of Environmental Quality: "It's just not quite to that level even for the cautionary yellow type alert."
The Red light-Green Light program of the Division of Air Quality targets the finest particles of pollution and carbon monoxide. Particulate Matter 2.5 refers to the tiniest particles that could cause health problems. That measurement and the Air Quality Index both remain below the unhealthy level set by the EPA.
The scale factors in the measured pollution, weather conditions, and the potential threat to health. The state will not designate a yellow alert before the threshold, because it does not want to deaden public support.
Donna Kemp Spangler: "We are at risk of crying wolf all the time, and people won't be paying attention when it actually is at that level where we really need to take these voluntary measures."
So even though it's not a yellow light air quality day,common sense tells us that whatever pollutants we dump into the basin today will stay there until there's a real change in the weather.
Donna Kemp Spangler: "When you look outside and it looks hazy, use some common sense, do things that will not add to the pollution."
Carpool, consolidate trips, or use mass transit. Bottom line is we all need to reduce the amount of pollution we contribute, especially when there's no wind to blow it away.