Utah’s winter inversion season ended on March 1st. The Division of Air Quality says there were 31 days when the urban areas of Utah exceeded the federal Ambient Air Quality standards, compared to 29 the year before. But Bryce Bird, the director of the Division of Air Quality, says what’s really changed is public interest in the issue.
“When we were developing our state plan," Bird tells KUER, "we had a hard time getting a hundred people to come and be involved in air pollution planning. And to see thousands at the capitol and hundreds engaged at the legislature right now is a key indicator that this is an important issue for us that we need to address, and that support is very helpful as we go through this process.”
The division handled more than 300 complaints for wood burning violations this season, compared to 86 the year before. Violators are allowed to attend a class to learn about the pollution caused by wood burning instead of paying a fine.
Bird says the division’s mobile app has also been very popular, with more than 16-thousand downloads. It lets smartphone users know what pollution measurements are on any given day and whether wood burning is allowed.
KUER's Andrea Smardon contributed to this story.