As a familiar winter haze settles over the state, the Utah Division of Air Quality has issued mandatory action warnings for five Utah Counties. The use of wood stoves and fireplaces is prohibited in Cache, Box Elder, Salt Lake and Davis counties, as well as Utah and Weber counties until the Department of Environmental Quality lifts the limit with the improvement of air quality.
Utah Division of Air Quality Environmental Scientist Ken Simmons said the early warnings were issued to inform the public.
"The reason we've issued the warnings is to try and be proactive, to try to do what we can to warn the public, or let the public know that there are steps that they can take to try and reduce the concentrations of particulates that are building up in the valley due to the inversion," he said.
The hope, Simmons said, is to reduce particulate matter in the air that can be especially harmful to people with asthma as well as young children and the elderly.
Inversions are at their thickest when temperatures are cold, snow is on the ground, and high pressure settles on the state.
"That acts as a lid, or a barrier, and it won't let the cold air dissipate, or continue to travel upwards," he said. "So everything that's in that cold air concentrates. The pollutants concentrate, and that's what gives you the haze and the elevated particulate levels."
The inversion is expected to get worse until a storm rolls through the state, mixing the trapped air with fresh, clear air.
The Division suggests reducing driving during air quality warnings.