The term “air quality” refers to the degree to which ambient (outdoor) air is free of pollution. Air pollutants are those substances present in ambient air that negatively affect human health and welfare, animal and plant life, property, and the enjoyment of life or use of property. The Clean Air Act of 1970 and its amendments require the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for criteria pollutants. Criteria pollutants are those that endanger public health or welfare and are widely emitted. The EPA has established NAAQS for six criteria pollutants: ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM), and lead (Pb). Ambient pollutant concentrations result from interaction between meteorology and pollutant emissions. Because meteorology can’t be controlled, emissions must be managed to control pollutant concentrations. The purpose of air quality conformity regulations, enforced by the EPA and the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ), is to protect public health and welfare by lowering pollutant emissions to reduce the severity and number of violations of the NAAQS.
Related resources for County planning include:
Download mxd The ESRI mxd file of the services used to create the above map.
The Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990 established three designations for areas based on how ambient air quality conditions compare to the NAAQS: non-attainment areas, maintenance areas, and attainment areas. Attainment (non-attainment) areas are those with air quality better (worse) than the NAAQS. If an area is designated non-attainment, the relevant air quality management agency must create and implement a plan to reduce emissions in order to reduce concentrations below the NAAQS. The air quality management agency must maintain the plan used to meet the NAAQS and prepare a maintenance plan to keep the air clean for the next 20+ years. A maintenance area is one which was in non-attainment but reduced emissions sufficiently to meet the NAAQS. It must maintain those rules/actions that reduced emissions for a period of 10 years.
In the WFRC area, Salt Lake and Davis counties are designated maintenance areas for O3; Salt Lake City and Ogden are maintenance areas for CO; Salt Lake County and portions of Tooele County are non-attainment areas for SO2; Salt Lake County and portions of Weber County are non-attainment areas for large particulate matter (PM10); and portions of Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, and Tooele counties are non-attainment areas for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Requests have been submitted to the EPA to change Salt Lake and Tooele Counties to maintenance for CO and Salt Lake County and Ogden City to maintenance for PM10. Plans for meeting and continuing to meet the NAAQS in these areas are found at the DAQ State Implementation Plan website. These plans provide relevant background, pollutant sources, and the selected control measures for each non-attainment case.
The two emissions datasets, Large Industrial Emissions and Oil and Gas Compressor Emissions, can be used along with the permitting and compliance datasets to identify potential polluting areas of the county.
The Clean Air Act and its amendments place control of local air quality at the state level with federal oversight, provided certain criteria are met, and require state and local ambient air quality standards be equal to or lower in concentration than the NAAQS. State of Utah laws and rules regarding air quality set the state standards equal to the NAAQS. The local air quality management agency for all WFRC counties is the Utah DAQ. Rules and policies pertaining to air quality activities and plans to achieve NAAQS attainment are set by the Utah Air Quality Board. The DAQ conducts statewide air quality monitoring and research, air emissions permitting and compliance monitoring, air quality compliance planning activities, and public education, outreach, and support programs. The DAQ also supports the Air Quality Board in fulfilling its purposes.
The following are examples of existing county planning goals/policies related to air quality:
- Protect and improve air quality for protection of public health, environmental health, and scenic visibility.
- Advocate programs such as carpooling, voluntary no burn days, emission testing, etc., that help to reduce pollution.
- Limit airborne particulates by mitigating human-made disturbances along with requiring dust-control measures and revegetation for all development and grading projects.
- Coordinate with Wasatch Front Regional Council, Utah Transit Authority and other transportation organizations to assure that land-use and transportation decisions will improve regional air quality.
- The county should establish an ongoing air quality monitoring program and actively implement corrective strategies, which might include appropriate regulations on fireplaces and other similar measures, if required, to maintain acceptable air quality standards.
Some examples of planning goals/policies from state and federal plans are:
- Air quality will be maintained or improved in accordance with state and federal standards, including consultation with state agencies on proposed projects that may significantly affect air quality. Management actions on public land will be designed to protect against significant air quality deterioration.
- Proactively manage air quality and atmospheric values during land management planning and when authorizing uses of the public lands while maintaining the US Bureau of Land Management’s multiple-use management responsibilities.
- Ensure national forest management activities (prescribed fires) result in meeting state and federal air quality standards, and comply with local, state and federal air quality regulations and requirements.
- Reduce fugitive dust emissions from exposed lake beds. Coordinate with the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to manage illegal motor vehicle traffic on dirt roads around the lake and on the exposed lake beds.
- Promote compliance with emissions standards for industries that use Great Salt Lake resource.
- Coordinate with the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) to evaluate emissions of all criteria pollutants associated with proposed projects and work with DAQ to identify appropriate mitigation strategies to offset major emissions.
- Coordinate with DAQ to evaluate whether industries with Utah Forestry, Fire, and State Lands leases meet DAQ emission standards.
Additional planning goals/policies for consideration:
- Conduct public awareness campaigns about current air quality conditions, forecasts, and activities/practices individuals can do to reduce air pollutant emissions.
- Links to or reporting current air quality and forecast on county websites.
- Reminders about rules affecting residents/businesses (e.g., residential open burn permits, anti-idling).
Economic consequences of poor air quality may include:
- Increased time away from work and health care costs associated with stroke, heart disease, chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, and premature death.[8,9,10]
- Decreased appeal of tourism.[8,11]
- Deterring new businesses and industries from moving to the area.[8,12]
- Increased operating expenses for significant pollutant sources due to pollution control measures as required by air quality management plans.
- Stunted growth and yield of agricultural crops.[8,13]
- Threat of additional federal regulation and potentially reduced highway funding.
Some general impact considerations are:
- Construction and mining projects require assessment of air quality impacts and may require an emissions permit and/or a fugitive dust control plan from the DAQ. Air pollution control measures are more stringent and apply more widely in non-attainment and maintenance areas than in attainment areas.
- Fines of up to $10,000 per day may be issued if rules/laws are not properly followed.
- On public lands, important air quality issues include fire management (wildland and prescribed), fugitive dust from exposed soils (e.g., mining area disturbances, exposed lake beds, unpaved roads, and construction sites), and air pollutant emissions from energy and mineral resource development, hazardous materials management, etc.
Air Quality Measurement in Utah
The Utah DAQ provides an annual report summarizing ambient air quality data, emissions data, compliance monitoring results, and Division efforts over each calendar year. Included in this annual report are criteria pollutant concentration trend graphs and how they relate to the applicable NAAQS. The following summaries are provided from the 2014 annual report. The reader is referred to the DAQ Annual Report website for the latest version. Monitored pollutants include:
- Carbon Monoxide (CO): Emitted from combustion activities. Utah has been in compliance with the CO NAAQS since 1994 and concentrations over the last 10 years were generally four times less than the standard.
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2): Emitted from high temperature combustion. Utah has never exceeded the NO2 standard and calculated averages over the last 10 years were 50-60% of the NAAQS. Officials are mindful of the NO2 emissions trends due to its role in forming other criteria pollutants.
- Ozone (O3): Formed through chemical reactions in the atmosphere between oxides of nitrogen, including NO2, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). O3 concentrations have generally decreased over the last 10 years during which time the O3 NAAQS have been officially reduced once with another proposed reduction to be finalized in 2016. All sites within the WFRC counties except Hawthorne met the current NAAQS, but nearly all exceed the proposed NAAQS.
- Fine Particulate Matter (PM): NAAQS levels for both PM10 and PM2.5 exist. Larger particles come from roads, construction work, mining, etc. and smaller particles in Utah are mainly formed in the atmosphere through chemical reactions. All sites in WFRC counties have met the PM10 NAAQS since 2008. PM2.5 concentrations recorded at most sites within WFRC counties met the former PM2.5 NAAQS but have exceeded the current PM2.5 NAAQS on a yearly basis.
- Sulfur Dioxide (SO2): Emitted primarily from large combustion sources. All measurements in Utah over the past decade easily meet the current SO2 NAAQS.
- Lead (Pb): Largest source was burning leaded gasoline until that fuel was phased out in the US; the current largest source in Utah is the extraction and processing of metallic ores. Monitoring for Pb in Salt Lake County shows a slight increase in concentrations but all measurements are well below the Pb NAAQS.
The DAQ runs a network of monitoring stations throughout Utah, making a variety of air-quality related measurements. Data are collected at sites within Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, and Weber counties. No air quality data are currently collected in Morgan County. Data collected are site specific and subject to change based on need and other factors.  Note that data type, data quality, and period of collection may vary. The EPA’s AirData database requires the user to create a free account to access data.Air quality monitoring stations and parameters measured during 2014 .
|Salt Lake||Hawthorne||Salt Lake City||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Salt Lake||Rose Park||Salt Lake City||X|
National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Also of import to this discussion on air quality data is the manner in which NAAQS attainment is determined. This is set within each individual NAAQS and varies substantially. As stated by the 2014 DAQ Annual Report, the standard specifies a numerical concentration averaged over some period of time and a statistical form (annual mean, maximum, 98th percentile, etc.). For instance, the PM10 NAAQS states that a 24-hour average PM10 concentration of 150 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) is not to be exceeded more than once per year on average over three years.
|Ozone||8 Hour||Primary and Secondary||0.075||Parts per million||Annual fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hour concentration, averaged over three years|
|Respirable Particulate Matter (PM10)||24 Hour||Primary and Secondary||150||Micrograms per cubic meter||Not to be exceeded more than once per year on average over three years|
|Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)||24 Hour||Primary and Secondary||35||Micrograms per cubic meter||98th percentile, averaged over three years|
|Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)||Annual||Primary||12||Micrograms per cubic meter||Annual mean, averaged over three years|
|Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)||Secondary||15||Micrograms per cubic meter||Annual mean, averaged over three years|
|Carbon Monoxide||1 Hour||Primary||35||parts per million||Not to be exceeded more than once per year|
|Carbon Monoxide||8 Hour||Primary||9||parts per million||Not to be exceeded more than once per year|
|Nitrogen Dioxide||1 Hour||Primary and Secondary||100||parts per billion||98th percentile, averaged over three years|
|Nitrogen Dioxide||Annual||Primary and Secondary||53||parts per billion||Annual mean|
|Sulfur Dioxide||1 Hour||Primary||75||parts per billion||99th percentile of 1-hour daily maximum concentrations, averaged over three years|
|Sulfur Dioxide||3 Hour||Secondary||50||parts per billion||Not to be exceeded more than once per year|
|Lead||Rolling 3 month average||Primary and Secondary||0.15||micrograms per cubic meter||Not to be exceeded|
There are many individuals/organizations involved with air quality data collection, compliance planning, and policy formation that can assist counties in resource management planning.
|Utah Division of Air Quality||Dave McNeill||Branch Manager, Planning||801-536-4037|
|Utah Division of Air Quality||Bowen Call||Section Manager, Air Monitoring||801-536-4215|
|Bureau of Land Management Utah||Leonard Herr||Physical Scientist, Air Quality||801-539-4094|
|BLM air resource specialist in Utah|
|U.S. Forest Service||Jeff Sorkin||Regional Air Program Manager, Intermountain Region||303-275-5752|
|Air program manager, contact Debra Miller if not available|
|U.S. Forest Service||Debra Miller||Assistant Regional Air Program Manager||303-275-5319|
|Assistant air program manager, works on Utah air quality topics for the Forest Service|
|Data Name||Data Explanation||Publication Date||Spatial Accuracy||Contact|
|Utah Department of Environmental Quality Interactive Map||Utah environmental databases including air quality, air sampling stations, emission permits||Variable||Variable||Utah Division of Environmental Quality|
|Historic Air Quality Data from EPA||EPA Air Quality System Data Mart||Current||Variable||U.S Environmental Protection Agency|
|DAQ Annual Reports||Annual summary of air quality trends and monitoring stations.||Yearly||Address-based location, 1:12,000||Utah Division Air Quality|
|Live Air Quality Data from DAQ||Current air quality data, trends, and forecast||Current||Address-based location||Utah Division Air Quality|
|Live Air Quality Data for United States||Current and forecast air quality conditions||Current||Variable||U.S Environmental Protection Agency|
- Mountain Accord. 2014. Mountain Accord, Vision, Goals, and Metrics, August.
- Salt Lake County. 2004. Copperton Township General Plan. Salt Lake County Public Works Department, February.
- Morgan County. 2007. Porterville/Richville Area Plan, February.
- U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Salt Lake District. 1988. Proposed Pony Express Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement, September.
- U.S. Bureau of Land Management – Utah. 2011. Air Resource Management Strategy (ARMS), July.
- U.S. Forest Service. 2003. Revised Forest Plan for the Wasatch -Cache National Forest, February.
- Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands. 2013. Final Great Salt Lake Comprehensive Management Plan and Record of Decision. Utah Department of Natural Resources, March.
- University of Utah. n.d. Air Quality Literacy: A Guide for the University of Utah. University of Utah Global Change & Sustainability Center.
- World Health Organization. 2014. Ambient (outdoor) air quality and health: Fact sheet N°313, March.
- Pope, C.A., J. Schwartz, and M.R. Ransom. 1992. Daily mortality and PM10 pollution in Utah Valley. Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal, Vol. 47, Iss. 3, pgs. 211-217.
- Utah Economic Council. 2014. Utah Economic Outlook.
- Utah Division of Air Quality. 2012. It’s Up To all of Us [Video file].
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2009. State of the Science Fact Sheet: Air Quality.
- Stewart, H. 2012. Air Quality is Important for a Healthy Economy. Utah Business, March 1.
- Utah Division of Air Quality. 2015. Utah Division of Air Quality 2014 Annual Report.