With air pollution building, Tuesday brought the first “no burn” day of the 2018-19 winter to Salt Lake County.
“As most people know, we continue to struggle with air quality issues along the Wasatch Front and solid fuel burning is a significant contributor to the valley’s air pollution,” Gary Edwards, executive director of Salt Lake County Health Department, said in a news statement.
Salt Lake County ordinance applies a stricter standard than the state designations: Burning solid fuels — wood, coal or pellets — is forbidden in Salt Lake County on any days that the state Division of Air Quality calls for “mandatory” or ““voluntary” pollution reduction measures. Residents may not burn wood or other solid fuels unless the Division of Air Quality determines it is an “unrestricted action” day.
“Salt Lake County residents should assume burning is prohibited; unless they’ve explicitly confirmed the day is ‘unrestricted,’ their default behavior should be to not burn solid fuels,” Edwards said.
Tuesday was a “voluntary action” day, per the Division of Air Quality, thanks to rising particulate matter. In Salt Lake County, the ban applies to fireplaces, heating stoves and outdoor fires; burning for heat in an emergency, such as a power outage, is allowed.
Fines for illegal burning can reach as high as $299, though first-time offenders typically receive a warning. Last winter the county received 90 complaints of illegal burning.
Wood smoke produces microscopic “particulate pollution,” which, in excess, can cause health problems, county officials warned.
Residents may report illegal burning at 385-468-8888 during regular business hours, or online anytime at SaltLakeHealth.org.