Air quality has an affect on each of us, every day. Whether it's for work, recreation, or health, we're all breathing this air. We can each make a difference in keeping it clean.
During the winter, it's the inversion that we talk about. During the summer, it's ozone causing the problems.
Ground-level ozone is created when heat and sunlight interact with man-made and natural emissions of cars and trucks, industrial facilities, refineries, power plants, household products, cleaning supplies, and paints and solvents.
High levels of ground-level ozone in the summertime can have the same effects as poor air in the winter—throat irritation, worsening asthma and other respiratory issues.
During inversion season, we have to wait days and sometimes weeks for Mother Nature to help us clear the air after the lid goes on.
In ozone season, because chemistry and heat form new ozone each day, making small changes every day keeps the air clear every day.
Some things we all can do include carpooling or teleworking, if possible, check your household products, cleaners and paints to make sure they're environmentally safe. Don't idle. Walk or bike when you can.
Checking local air quality using the free UtahAir app is helpful and easy. The color-coded scale can help you know at a glance if ozone is reaching unhealthy levels and you need to take steps to reduce your exposure.
Knowing that the ozone layer we're trying to limit is magnified when it's hot and sunny, we can make simple changes as we go about our day.
Ground-level ozone is typically lower in the morning and increases as light and temperatures increase, peaking about midday.
Timing of your activities - such as when you mow your lawn or fill your car - makes a big difference. Think about fueling or mowing the lawn in the evenings rather than in the mornings, and use electric tools instead of those that are gas-powered.
Go to the UCAIR website, U-C-A-I-R.org for videos and other ideas to help improve our air during the summer.