Summer Means Utah's Ozone Season is Here

Jun 24, 2014

Downtown Salt Lake City skyline view from the east campus of the University of Utah.
Downtown Salt Lake City skyline view from the east campus of the University of Utah.
Credit Brian Grimmett

The state departments of Health and Environmental Quality are both calling attention to the unofficial arrival of the ozone season this week. Ozone is the product of auto and industrial exhaust heated by the summer sun. Kellie Baxter is with the health department’s Asthma Program. She’s urging Utahns to be aware of ozone’s potentially harmful effects.

“Ozone is an issue for us in Utah during the summer months. The best times to exercise are before noon or after 6pm. And if you do suspect that you’re having problems with ozone," says Baxter, "if you have these symptoms of the coughing or tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing, that you make sure that you talk to your doctor about it so you can get specific guidance on what can help you.”

Donna Spangler is the spokeswoman for the Division of Air Quality. She says ozone is essentially invisible.

“You know it’s unlike our winter inversions where our particulate pollution gets trapped in the valley you can kind of see that lid. With ozone it just tends to look a little smoggy outside,” says Spangler.

She says Utahns can be better informed about hourly ozone levels by using logging onto www.airquality.utah.gov or downloading the free UtahAir mobile app. The Department of Health also offers asthma support on its website.