Orange air quality forecast for parts of Utah amid smoke from wildfires

SALT LAKE CITY -- Several counties in Utah are experiencing yellow air days in terms of particulate matter Monday, and the forecast for the coming days anticipates conditions will worsen to orange.

The National Weather Service says smoke from local fires is contributing to the issue, and smoke from fires in Nevada and California are also a factor.

According to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality's air monitoring page, the following counties are experiencing yellow air quality for particulate matter as of 8 a.m. Monday:

  • Box Elder
  • Cache
  • Davis
  • Duchesne
  • Salt Lake
  • Tooele
  • Uintah
  • Utah
  • Weber

According to the site's forecast page, orange air quality—which is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups—is expected Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Salt Lake, Box Elder, Davis, Tooele, Utah and Weber counties.

Other counties face a mix of yellow and orange air quality in the coming days.

Click here for current conditions and here for the forecast. 

Dr. Denitza Blagev, a pulmonary critical care physician at Intermountain Medical Center, said the smoke can be a major issue for those who already have respiratory issues, like asthma, as well as for children and the elderly.

"People have a hard time breathing," she said. "They feel like their chest is tight. They have a cough. They are more likely to get bronchitis or pneumonia. And generally a lot of my patients will just stay home with the doors closed and really try to take it easy and get through the few days."

The DEQ has added a notice about wildfire smoke to their monitoring page, saying that smoke from the various wildfires around the state could cause high concentrations of particulates in populated areas.

If smoke becomes thick, the DEQ advises those with heart or respiratory issues to reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity.