Cold weather brings poor air quality, experts say

Posted at 8:11 PM, Oct 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-20 22:11:40-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's getting cold at night, and as we reach for the thermostat and throw wood on the fire, air quality experts say we should consider how we're heating our homes.

Fire places and wood burning stoves are a major polluter and nearly every home has one or both.

“Wood burning is a disproportionate part of our winter time inversion, wood smoke is probably the worst kind of pollution in the valley,” said Breathe Utah Executive Director Rachel Otto “It's the tinniest particles that get into your lungs and stay there, and build up over time causing adverse health effects.”

On Nov. 1 wood burning restrictions go into effect, which means if the Department of Air Quality says it's a no burn day, violators can be fined $25 to $500 depending on whether it’s a repeat offense.

“It's really important for people to know before they turn on their wood burning devices, that they check with DEQs web page, which is and find out if the air quality conditions are such that they can burn,” said Donna Kemp Spangler, Communications Director for the Department of Environmental Quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports one wood burning stove can emit as much pollution as 3,000 gas furnaces. The air experts say anyone who turns on the heat can do their part.

“There are many things we can do around the home and one is to turn down the thermostat two degrees. Two degrees makes an enormous contribution to the air quality problem,” said Ted Wilson, Executive Director of Utah Clean Air Partnership.

Inversion season usually starts in November and continues through May.