By Jared Mendenhall
Astute followers of air quality in Utah (and I know there are many of you) are aware that the monitoring stations in Weber County were down for repairs and relocation this summer. After a few months of hard work, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is happy to report that the new Weber County monitoring station is up and running.
In May, DAQ was informed that it would need to move its monitoring station in Ogden. The landowner had plans to build a new parking lot and needed the small area where DAQ’s station sat.
Normally, this wouldn’t have posed a problem. There were two monitors in Weber County—the one in Ogden and another in Harrisville. At the same time, however, the station in Harrisville was in need of an overhaul.
The decision was made to take both stations offline, tear down the Harrisville station and move the Ogden station, which included a “shed,” monitors and other equipment, to Harrisville. During the move and demolition, the monitors were down for a little more than a month.
Earlier this month, scientists fired up the new Weber County air monitoring station.
Air monitoring is the beginning–and the end–of everything DAQ does to protect and improve Utah’s air. The accurate data gathered from the two dozen air monitoring stations across Utah provide regulators, legislators and residents with the information they need to make impactful decisions about air pollution. The statewide monitoring network gives DAQ the ability to:
- Collect long-term air-pollution data
- Assess the levels of air pollution relative to regulatory standards
- Prepare three-day forecasts and pollutant trend charts
- Provide real-time air-quality data for the public
In addition to relocating the meteorological equipment and the instruments for monitoring ozone, PM10 (dust) and PM2.5, the new station has equipment to measure carbon monoxide. This addition will help scientists and researches gather more complete information on air pollution in Northern Utah.
Air-monitoring staff will go out every week or so to collect and replace filters at the monitors. They will bring these filters back to the DAQ’s lab for analysis. This analysis is done by weighing the filters before installation and then weighing them again when they are filled. By comparing the initial weight to the filled weight, staff can determine the levels of particulates in the air during a 24-hour period.
In addition to the filter-based 24-hour monitors, the new site has continuous monitors. These monitors provide information on air quality each hour. Although this information is not scientifically verified, and can’t be used for compliance, it does provide a very accurate picture of real-time conditions. Information that is particularly useful for sensitive populations such as children, the elderly, and those with respiratory conditions or cardiovascular ailments.
Users of DAQ’s webpage or phone app can access the real-time air-quality conditions, action alerts, air quality index information, and three-day forecasts — information they can use to plan their day, limit outdoor activities or make different transit choices.
I am a public information officer for DEQ and a former marketer and magazine editor. Follow me on Instagram @Jarv801.