The reason behind a weaker inversion season

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – We’re settling into a few days in which air quality will decline, but this year we’ve had only a few days that exceeded standards.  Many Utahns say it didn’t use to be as bad, which is true, but population growth and more pollution are big contributors to smog.

In Northern Utah, we have about 20 air quality monitoring stations that work around the clock to collect air particles. It’s not just in your head, our weather pattern has kept the air a little cleaner than normal.

“Honestly, it’s been a lot better. I’m surprised. We’ve been able to go outside a lot more,”  Allison Sudbury of Salt Lake City said. 

An active storm track kept mixing in the atmosphere which means we get to breathe cleaner air. Outside of wildfires and the usage of fireworks, January is typically the month we see the most days with dirty air. This year, a bulk of the Wasatch Front has only faced a few rough days. 

“We’ve only had a couple, Hawthorne and Rose Park are the main Salt Lake stations, they’ve had one apiece. We’ve had three up in Smithfield, their inversion tends to be a little tighter when they get them,” said Bo Call, the manager of air monitoring for the Division of Air Quality. 

Haze often can build quickly, and while it is visible, it doesn’t always mean air quality is at its worst. 

“What you are seeing is light bouncing off particles in the air, and if the particles are very small, you will still get a lot of light bouncing off of them so it will look nasty but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s that much particulate in the air,” said Call. 

As the population grows, so does the amount of pollution along the Wasatch Front. It’s a topic that will come up repeatedly in the legislative session, with at least five bills focusing on cleaner energy and air quality. 

To track air quality in your area, download the DEQ’s Utah Air app here

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