Northern Utah’s worsening air quality is mostly California’s fault – because smoke from wildfires in that state is blowing our way.
“Typically, at this time of year PM 2.5 particulates are very low,” said Utah Division of Air Quality spokeswoman Donna Spangler. “But the winds are carrying the smoke from those California fires here.”
PM 2.5 particulates are particles in the air that measure 2.5 microns or less in width. Exposure can cause short-term health effects, such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure also can worsen medical conditions, like asthma and heart disease.
The Division of Air Quality issued moderate, “yellow,” caution warning on Monday in the Salt Lake area; that's expected to continue through Wednesday. People with existing heart or respiratory conditions are advised to limit physical exertion and outdoor activity.
A rainstorm forecast for Wednesday in Utah could improve the air quality — at least temporarily. “It will help, but if the fires keep burning in California, it will just keeping coming,” Spangler said.
According to Cal Fire, there are nine wildfires burning in the state (as of midday Monday), including the 10,500-acre Taboose Fire (10% contained) and the 8,800-acre Red Bank Fire (50% contained) and the 38,000-acre Walker Fire (5% contained).