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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Particulate pollution in Cache Valley is bad but not as bad as monitoring equipment had indicated.
The Utah Department of Health had classified the Logan area's air quality last week as "very unhealthy" due to PM2 readings that were reported to be the worst in the nation in seven years of monitoring, aside from some readings during forest fires.
On Saturday, the Utah Department of Health lowered the air quality alert to "unhealthy," due to a discrepancy in monitoring equipment throughout the valley.
Seventeen air monitoring stations are set up throughout Cache and Franklin counties. When health department officials checked the digital readings and compared them with the actual air filters, they found the PM 2.5 pollution actually was 30 percent lower than had been reported.
According to Department of Environmental Quality, the monitoring equipment may not have been adjusted correctly for humidity.
"State scientists have already made adjustments to account for humidity, but the extraordinarily high values over the past few days entered new territory never experienced in the nation," the DEQ said.
Even lowering the levels by 30 percent doesn't make Cache Valley's air healthy, said Bear River Health Department spokesman Mike Weibel.
For nine days Cache Valley has been blanketed by a hazy fog known as an inversion. The inversion has kept small particulates trapped in the valley's atmosphere, causing pollution levels to climb higher and higher.
The National Weather forecast forecasts a 30 percent chance of snow showers on Monday and Tuesday, which could break up the inversion.
The high PM 2.5 readings during the past week mean Cache Valley like will face EPA air quality improvement programs, such as mandatory vehicle emission testing.
For now, the Bear River Health Department and other agencies are encouraging people to reduce vehicle use as much as possible. On Friday, several banks and fast-food restaurants closed their drive-through windows to help prevent cars from idling.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)