Red alert air day in the Salt Lake Valley

Posted at 12:00 PM, Dec 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-12 14:23:45-05

SALT LAKE CITY – Tuesday is a red alert air day in Salt Lake County according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, and the temperature inversion is to blame.

PM 2.5 particulates reached 68.8 micrograms per cubic meter Tuesday morning.  When PM 2.5 rises above 55.4 micrograms, the alert goes from orange to red. Yellow is between 12 and 35.4 micrograms per cubic meter. To be in the green, the PM 2.5 levels must be lower than 12.

PM 2.5 are fine particulates in the air that are two-and-a-half microns or smaller.

The fine particulates can travel deep into the respiratory tract and reach the lungs, causing problems like coughing and sneezing and can worsen conditions like asthma and heart disease.

The temperature inversion is trapping dirty air in the valleys along the Wasatch Front and causing the increase in dangerous pollutants.

A red alert means burning wood in a fireplace, wood-burning stove or fire pit is prohibited and can lead to a stiff fine.

Motorists are asked to reduce vehicle use by using mass transit, consolidating trips, and carpooling.

Weather forecasters say the smog will stay in place and even get worse, until a storm comes along to clear the air.