Have you ever noticed a haze in your area and wondered if it’s just fog or unhealthy smog? Smog can be created by a weather condition known as a “temperature inversion,” where the cool air in a valley is trapped by a layer of warmer air above. Temperature inversions prevent the normal release of emissions into the atmosphere thus trapping pollutants at ground level. According to an article by Paul Foy, of The Associated Press, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found the greater Salt Lake City region as having the worst air in the nation during the month of January. Recently, the temperature in Salt Lake City was a cold 18 degrees while Park City, Utah, located in the nearby mountains was a warm 43 degrees. The warmer air acted like a lid holding in the Salt Lake City pollutants. According to a Salt Lake City pediatrician, “It’s essentially like smoking. Instead of breathing clean air, you’re breathing particles that make it harder for your lungs to function and get oxygen.” Utah authorities have urged people to limit their driving and to use mass transit more. Utah is also working on ways to limit everyday emissions. In the meantime, you can check current air quality conditions in ten of Utah’s counties on Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality “Current Conditions” website.
Using our “Sustainability and Environmental Health Resources” website, you can look for other available air quality websites. For instance, the EPA has an “Air Now” website that shows current and forecast air quality levels on a searchable U.S. map including a list of the highest 5 locations. The Scorecard website offers air pollution reports searchable by state, county, community, or facility. Alabama’s Department of Environmental Management “Air Quality Information” website provides a daily air quality forecast for 4 regions of the state including data for the last 7 days or previous years. California’s Environmental Protection Agency offers a great website which provides a variety of searchable air quality reports including hourly listings for any date and location, or daily listings for a 10 week period. Maine’s “Air Quality Forecast” website actually provides a mobile application providing real-time information which you can use to plan your outdoor activities, if necessary. You can also subscribe to Maine’s air quality emails based on your preselected air quality levels.
In addition, Nevada provides an air quality map with color-coded categories for six different pollution levels. New Jersey’s “Air Monitoring” website also offers an air quality mobile application and the State’s latest air quality data. The State of Washington’s Department of Ecology website covers a variety of topics related to air quality such as motor vehicle emission testing, agricultural burning, outdoor burning, indoor burning, air standards, air monitoring, and more.
Air quality affects everyone’s daily life so it is good to know that the states are working on the problem and are also providing online tools for monitoring current and forecast levels of pollution. This information allows concerned citizens to limit their exposure to air pollution, some of which is made worse by cold foggy days.
You can view other types of public records on our “Free Public Records Search Directory” by state or types of records including other environmental issues.