The start of the winter pollution season in Utah also brings changes to how the state communicates the air quality status to the public.
Starting on November 1 the stoplight signal model of air quality awareness -- red, yellow, green -- will be no more. We will still have red air days, unfortunately, but the color system will correspond to health implications of air pollution, not action items.
The Utah Division of Air Quality is adopting the EPA’s Air Quality Index with its six color chart. In addition to green, yellow, and red, now there’s orange, too, to indicate “unhealthy for sensitive groups” and even purple and maroon, both worse than red, for when things get really bad. Fortunately, these categories are rarely represented in Utah’s airsheds. They indicate “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” conditions, respectively.
Action Alerts like wood-burning prohibitions are indicated by symbols: an “X” for mandatory no burn days and a triangle for voluntary days. A circle means that there no restrictions.
The new guide heightens awareness of health impacts during pollution events in Utah, which mostly occur during valley inversions.
The new guide will be available on Friday at airquality.utah.gov, where you can also sign up to receive email alerts. Current air quality conditions and a 3-day forecast are provided for Utah counties along the Wasatch Front, as well as Uintah and Duchesne Counties in the East and Washington County in the South.