Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer: Different Air Quality Issues

In the winter months everyone is concerned about the inversion and PM 2.5 concentrations. Our valley inversions especially get a lot of attention because they obstruct visibility. Summer comes with its own pollution problems--ozone.

Below are the trend charts for ozone and PM 2.5 for Salt Lake City.

Yesterday's storms cleaned us out, but our ozone levels have been inching high the last few days. 

You may have heard of ozone being a good thing in the stratosphere--it protects us from dangerous UV radiation--but breathing ozone is not good for you. 

Where does ozone come from? It is a product of fossil fuel burning cooking in the sun.

The Uintah Basin is a "special case" for ozone pollution. We often observe extremely high concentrations in the winter months, but in the summer there is usually less than Salt Lake, as shown in the chart below.

(Oh, and the spikes in the PM 2.5 yesterday were likely caused by gusty winds associated with the storm front.)

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