SALT LAKE CITY — As air pollution intensified in northern Utah Tuesday, the Division of Air Quality asked everyone to limit driving. The ozone gas didn't quite reach the threshold for Utah's first red action alert of the summer season, but it came close, making it an officially yellow day.
But the state's not just asking folks to drive less. It's also purchasing low-emission and emission-free vehicles for its fleet.
A Nissan Leaf is one of the state's first two fully-electric vehicles.
"It drives exactly like you'd expect a car to drive," said Bryce Bird, director of Utah's DAQ. "What you notice is smoother acceleration, and of course the quiet ride."
It travels 100 miles on a charge, all with a $40,000 sticker price and zero emissions.
"The standard vehicle that is being purchased at the state level right now is either a hybrid or natural gas vehicle," Bird said.
That means less ozone in the atmosphere for the people of the state.
DAQ meteorologist Kent Bott explained the equipment it uses to inspect air quality. The equipment measures even trace amounts of pollutants at 32 stations statewide.
"The reason we do this is so we can tell the public what's out there, and they can make choices about the level of activity they want to have in the outdoors," he said.
The ozone level, not far from the EPA threshold of 75 parts per billion, fluctuated even during the short time KSL was at the station. An average of 75 parts per billion over eight hours triggers a red air alert.
Without that wind, nitrogen mixes with volatile organic compounds like exhaust from our cars and industrial pollution. Sunlight and heat cook up the ozone gas.
The state is not urging all citizens to buy new cars, but everyone can reduce emissions.
"This is certainly an available alternative right now that can get you zero em missions, and save you on the pocketbook as well," Bird said.