Concerned About Air Quality?
You Can Make a Difference, Both for Your Health and Your Community
Wintertime inversions are a common event in Utah, often leading to the high levels of fine particulate pollution, or PM2.5. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) works every day to safeguard human health and quality of life by protecting the environment. DEQ has been working for the past three years on a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to reduce PM2.5 emissions in areas in the state that are in nonattainment for fine particulate pollution.
During inversions, elevated PM2.5 levels pose health hazards and raise concerns about air quality. Residents sometimes feel powerless to act, unsure if anything they do will make a difference. While nothing can be done to alter Utah's unique geography and weather patterns--both of which provide ideal conditions for temperature inversions—there are many ways individuals can reduce their emissions and decrease the build-up of harmful pollutants during inversions.
What many people don't realize is that the principal source of precursor emissions for PM2.5 are vehicles, followed closely by area (household and urban) sources. Mobile source emissions account for 57 percent of the typical winter workday emissions, with area sources close contributing 32 percent. Industry contributes 11 percent of these emissions.
Scientists searching for solutions to these PM2.5 problems have found that there are no quick fixes. DEQ scientists have joined their colleagues in other states, particularly California, in looking for innovative ways to address the complex mix of atmospheric chemistry, multiple emissions sources, and variables in weather conditions that combine to create unhealthy pollutant levels.
Still confused about what you can do? There are some concrete steps you can take to protect your health and reduce emissions. In the case of PM2.5 pollution, it will take all of us working together to effect change and improve our air quality. Inversions will always be a fact of life in Utah, but unhealthy air doesn't have to be.