DEQ Sets New Standard for Measuring Air Quality

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality is implementing new rules for all solid fuel and coal burning devices as a way to predict red and yellow air-quality conditions sooner during the winter inversion season.  Air Quality Division Director Bryce Bird says the state will now rate its air quality based on the national air quality index.

“In the past we had made the calls when we approached the federal health standard.  We are now being more proactive and protective and making those calls at a lower level. What this does is just lets us control those emissions earlier in the process or as early as possible to make sure we are getting those reductions in place so we don’t have to live with the results of that through the rest of the inversion period,” he says.

The Air Quality Index rates air conditions from good to hazardous, and varies wood and coal burning into “no action days” where burning is permitted to “mandatory action days” where it’s restricted.  Bird says the index also outlines health recommendations for sensitive groups who may be affected.

“The air quality index goes from a green, yellow, orange, and then to red. So really one of the messages we have right now is that when we are calling for a mandatory action day it will actually be an air quality yellow or moderate condition as a protective measure to avoid getting to the orange or unhealthy for sensitive groups,” he says.

Utah Division of Air Quality Director, Bryce Bird

Click here for a link to the Division of Air Quality’s forecast of current air conditions.