Make it easier for everyone to breathe — drive less for a couple days

Wednesday , August 02, 2017 - 4:30 AM3 comments

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

Today’s forecast for Weber County is orange, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

So was Tuesday’s.

And so is Thursday’s.

When it comes to the EPA’s Air Quality Index, orange isn’t healthy. So take steps to protect yourself — and others.

  • RELATED: “The basics of Utah's air quality regulations and management”

Essentially, the AQI measures pollution levels and health risks. The Utah DEQ uses the index to make its state and regional forecasts.

At the low end, green is good. At the high end, maroon is hazardous. Orange is near the middle, bridging yellow (moderate) and red (unhealthy).

Orange means although the general population isn’t likely to be affected, the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups — children, older adults and those with chronic lung disease, for instance.

In the summer, ozone poses the greatest health risk. In the winter, it’s particulate pollution.

Today, according to the Utah DEQ, people affected by ozone need to avoid “prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.” So do those who are active outdoors, such as laborers and athletes.

But today isn’t just orange — it’s a mandatory action day. So is Thursday.

Employers are asked to implement trip reduction plans, which can include everything from telecommuting to alternative work schedules. Individuals, for their part, need to consolidate trips and take steps to reduce volatile organic compound emissions.

That can be as simple as turning off the engine of your car at a long stoplight or a blocked railroad crossing. Or, better yet, taking mass transit for the next couple of days.

Carpooling also helps. You can find a carpool at the state’s TravelWise website, which provides a number of strategies to help Utahns reduce their driving.

When the air begins to pose a health risk, many people can retreat indoors, at least during the hottest part of the day. That offers them some protection.

But the best solution, especially during the next couple days, is reducing the compounds that contribute to ozone pollution.

Drive less. You’ll make it easier for everyone to breathe.

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