New program could mean changes for air quality alerts

Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality is working on implementing 23 new rules to better control air pollution along the Wasatch Front, including a revision to the wood burning control program.

The department currently issues three types of color-coded alerts regarding air quality.

Green means the air quality is good and wood burning is okay.

Yellow means Utahns are asked to voluntarily restrict wood burning and drivers are asked to use mass transit or carpool.

Red means wood should not be burned at all and drivers are asked to use mass transit or carpool.

If implemented, a new plan will introduce an air quality forecast system used in other parts of the country. The new system includes orange days.

“The air quality value of orange is actually where we exceed the standard. So, kind of our old red is, under this system, this orange – where it’s unhealthy for sensitive individuals,” said Bryce Bird, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, during a presentation Monday.

Under the current system, Salt Lake, Davis and Weber Counties are expected to have red air alert days on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

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