Experts separate fact from fiction regarding Utah’s air quality issues

Posted at 9:24 PM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 08:49:49-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- When the air quality is bad, it's the topic of a lot of conversations. But the Utah DEQ's Division of Air Quality says some people don't know fact from fiction when it comes to pollution and warns folks not to believe everything they hear.

One statement they hear a lot that isn’t true is that refineries are the biggest air polluters.

The DEQ says only 3 percent of the air pollution comes from Utah refineries. The biggest culprit for the bad air is our vehicles.

Speaking of cars, does turning your car off and then restarting it releases more emissions than leaving it idling?

Nope. That’s a myth. The DEQ says if your car is ever in park, turn it off because doing so does help.

Let’s take a look at another common belief: When the air outside is bad for you to breathe, is the air inside your home safe? The answer to that question is: Yes.

Your home can be a haven from the gunk in the air. The bad particles dissolve when heated up, which is why red air days typically only happen in colder months. One thing you can do to make the air inside clean is make sure your air filters are clean.

This next belief has been controversial in Utah for years: lighting a fire in a fireplace now and then isn't a big deal

That too is a myth. The DEQ says most pollution created from wood burning doesn't go away and is very harmful.

When it comes to protecting yourself, some might sport a surgical mask with hopes it will reduce the intake of pollution.

But the DEQ says that won’t work. Particulate matter is 1/20th the width of a human hair and can easily get through a surgical mask.

The DEQ says it's important to know fact from fiction in order to make a difference.

“We have to look at the right dials: What is it that's going to reduce pollution? Shutting down the refineries is not the solution,” said Donna Kemp Spangler, Spokesperson for the Utah Department of Environmental quality.

You can find out how you can make a difference by clicking here.