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PHONE LINES LET UTAHNS KNOW WHEN TO CURTAIL DRIVING, BURNING

SHARE PHONE LINES LET UTAHNS KNOW WHEN TO CURTAIL DRIVING, BURNING

The Bureau of Air Quality has set up phone lines to help Utah residents keep abreast of air-quality conditions.

The phone lines connect to a recording that lists current air-quality conditions for Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and Utah counties; the recording is updated as soon as the air-quality conditions change significantly - for better or worse. The recording also lists the highest pollution index level recorded in the previous 24 hours for each county and may include activity recommendations or warnings made by the bureau."The purpose of the recording is to keep people informed about what the current pollution level is and to help them to plan their outdoor activities," said Art King, bureau environmental health scientist. "Also, to let them know when it is wise to curtail wood burning and unnecessary driving to prevent pollution levels under stagnant conditions from getting worse than they already are."

On Friday, the recording said the health department advises residents to reduce use of wood-burning stoves and automobiles because of continuing stagnant air conditions.

Joseph Miner, director of the Utah County Health Department, said that "any day a flag won't move in a breeze, people should not use their wood stoves unless they absolutely have to."

According to the pollution index, a reading between 0 and 50 means air quality is good, between 51 and 100 moderate, and 101 to 199 it is unhealthful. Readings of 200 or more are divided into health advisory categories; air-quality conditions in the health advisory categories range from very unhealthful to possibly necessitating evacuation of an area.

So far this winter, readings of carbon monoxide have reached the "very unhealthful" level twice in downtown Provo. On both Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, levels of carbon monoxide reached 16 parts per million; the level of this pollutant should not exceed 5 parts per million for the air quality to be considered good. The Environmental Protection Agency has set the safe level of carbon monoxide at a maximum of 9 parts per million; readings above that are considered violations of the standard.

The recording provides information about the particular type of pollution problem found in each area, said Rolf Doebbeling, acting environmental health manager. For example, readings for Magna list sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, readings for downtown Salt Lake City list nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide and PM 10.

Currently, only carbon monoxide levels are given for downtown Provo, although levels of nitrogen dioxide and ozone in other areas of Utah County are provided.

The Deseret News provides a listing of air-quality conditions and pollution levels in its weather summary.