Air Quality

The degree to which the ambient air is pollution-free, assessed by measuring a number of indicators of pollution.

Related resource topics for county planning include the following:




Map of Data

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The ESRI mxd file of the services used to create the above map.

Resource Information

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. Ambient pollutant concentrations result from interaction between pollutant emissions and meteorology. Because meteorology can’t be controlled, emissions must be managed to control pollutant concentrations.

The Clean Air Act (CAA) of 1970 and its amendments set the laws and regulations regarding air quality, give authority to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set standards and rules, and delegate regulatory authority to individual states with EPA oversight, provided certain criteria are met. The purpose of air quality conformity regulations, enforced by the EPA and the Utah Division of Air Quality (DAQ) in Utah, is to protect public health and welfare by maintaining low pollutant concentrations where present and lowering concentrations in areas where levels exceed set standards through a reduction in emissions.

CAA Provisions Affecting MAG Area

The CAA is an immense piece of legislation with many areas of focus. It addresses air pollution emission control from stationary (power plants, mines, refineries, etc.) and mobile (cars, trucks, trains, etc.) sources, setting minimum concentrations of pollutants that are widespread and harmful to human health, limiting emissions of particularly harmful chemical compounds, improving air quality in areas with poor air quality, keeping the air clean in areas with good air quality, and delegating regulatory authority. While all of these have some effect on the counties in MAG, there are a few that impact the MAG counties more than others. A summary of the most relevant pieces of the CAA and example impacts in MAG is provided, and includes links to resources for more in depth exploration.

The CAA places control of local air quality at the state level with federal oversight. The local air quality management agency for the MAG area is the Utah DAQ. Rules and policies pertaining to air quality related activities and plans to improve poor air quality 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 EPA fulfills the regulatory function for air on behalf of Native American tribes in reservation and Indian Country lands in Utah. Air quality issues in areas containing both EPA and DAQ jurisdictions require coordinated efforts and plans.

A major provision of the CAA requires the 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). The CAA requires 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.

In addition, the CAA sets requirements for continuous air quality monitoring activities for criteria pollutants, which vary based on population and historical measurements for a given pollutant. Three of the 10 areas with the highest population in Utah are found within MAG counties, one in each county. Population thresholds, above which continuous monitoring is required, are only exceeded in Utah county. Due to limited resources, UDAQ only conducts continuous air quality monitoring in Utah county.

A given area in which continuous monitoring occurs falls into one of three designations based on how ambient levels of criteria pollutants compare to the NAAQS: non-attainment, maintenance, and attainment. Non-attainment areas are those with concentrations higher than the NAAQS. If an area is designated non-attainment, the air quality management agency must create and implement a plan to reduce emissions in order to reduce concentrations below the NAAQS. A maintenance area is one which was in non-attainment but concentrations were reduced sufficiently to meet the NAAQS. It must maintain those rules/actions that reduced emissions for a period of 10 years. Attainment areas are those locations which meet or exceed NAAQS.

Based on historical sampling, Utah county is designated as a non-attainment area for large particulate matter (PM10) and the western portion is a non-attainment area for small particulate matter (PM2.5). Provo is a maintenance area for CO [1].

The CAA also protects air quality in Summit and Wasatch counties through the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program, which was established to keep areas with clean air clean by regulating the amount of pollution that can be added in the future. Three classes (I, II, and III) were created: Class I areas have the lowest allowed future emissions increase, Class II a moderate increase, and Class III have the largest increase. Areas established as Class I are larger national parks, national monuments, and wilderness areas, such as Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capital Reef National Park, and Zion National Park in Utah. The remainder of Utah is set as Class II; there are no Class III areas in Utah [2] [3]. Proposed new pollutant sources or changes to existing sources must demonstrate increases in pollutant concentrations within allowable limits. This is more difficult near a Class I area due to a lower allowed pollutant increase and requires greater pollution controls, a decrease in planned production, and/or an increase in production per unit of pollutant emissions to meet lower emission limits.

Best Management Practices

The following are examples of goals and policies from existing city and county plans and federal land management plans that could be included or modified for county resource management plans.

  • Discourage extensive use of wood burning stoves as a means to preserve present air quality [4].
  • Land development patterns which degrade air quality should be discouraged [5].
  • Ensure that development does not contribute significantly to the degradation of air quality and minimizes the impacts of wood burning stoves, automobiles, or other similar air quality pollutants by:
    • Coordinating with the Summit County Health Department to support and implement air quality initiatives.
    • Prohibiting the use of new wood burning appliances and incentivize the replacement of old wood burning devices.
    • Adopting an anti-idling ordinance.
    • Coordinating with the Summit County Engineering Department to amend the Construction Mitigation Plan requirements to ensure mitigation of post emissions on construction sites [6].
  • Continue to work with Park City Municipal, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), and others to develop, maintain, and promote a regional transportation system to help reduce air pollution in the Snyderville Basin [7].
  • Limit airborne particulates by mitigating man-made disturbances along with requiring dust control measures and revegetation for all development and grading projects [7].
  • The County recognizes that one of the threats to the County’s air quality is catastrophic wildfire and encourages Agencies to enact programs that allow prescribed burning, forest improvement techniques such as forest thinning, pruning, and removal of brush and insect-killed trees, and other methods for reducing fire hazard that ultimately protects air quality [8].
  • Public education on the importance of clean air and the impacts of poor air quality [9].
  • Participation in public comment requests on air quality related issues. [9] [10]

Economic Considerations

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 [11] [12].
  • Decreased appeal of tourism especially with respect to the scenic resources throughout the MAG area [13].
  • Deterring new businesses and industries from moving to the area [14].
  • Stunted growth and yield of agricultural crops [15].
  • Threat of additional federal regulation and potentially reduced highway funding [16].

Impact Considerations

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.
  • Fines of up to $10,000 per day may be issued if rules/laws are not properly followed.
  • Increased operating expenses for significant pollutant sources due to pollution control measures as required by air quality management plans.
  • On public lands, important air quality issues include visibility (especially in Class I areas), 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 conducts air quality measurements throughout the state of Utah with a focus toward those areas with a history of poor air quality and NAAQS exceedances, particularly along the Wasatch Front. To date, sampling in Summit and Wasatch counties has not shown NAAQS exceedances. The DAQ provides an annual report summarizing ambient air quality data, emissions data, compliance monitoring results, and Division efforts over each calendar year [1]. Included in this annual report are criteria pollutant concentration trend graphs and how they relate to the applicable NAAQS.

Table 1 provides links and summary descriptions of various air quality data sets that can be accessed through either websites or agency personnel. Note that data type, data quality, and period of collection may vary and that the EPA AirData database requires the user create a free account to access data. 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 areas of concentrated pollution emissions.

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 2015 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. Table 1 provides the descriptions of how attainment/nonattainment is assessed for criteria pollutants.

Ambient air quality standards for criteria pollutants [15].
Ambient Air Quality Standards     
PollutantAveraging TimePrimary/SecondaryStandardUnitsForm
Ozone8 HourPrimary and Secondary0.075Parts per millionAnnual fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hour concentration, averaged over three years
Respirable Particulate Matter (PM10)24 HourPrimary and Secondary150 Micrograms per cubic meterNot to be exceeded more than once per year on average over three years
Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)24 HourPrimary and Secondary35 Micrograms per cubic meter98th percentile, averaged over three years
Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)AnnualPrimary12Micrograms per cubic meterAnnual mean, averaged over three years
Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)Secondary15Micrograms per cubic meterAnnual mean, averaged over three years
Carbon Monoxide1 HourPrimary35parts per millionNot to be exceeded more than once per year
Carbon Monoxide8 HourPrimary9parts per millionNot to be exceeded more than once per year
Nitrogen Dioxide1 HourPrimary and Secondary100parts per billion98th percentile, averaged over three years
Nitrogen DioxideAnnualPrimary and Secondary53parts per billionAnnual mean
Sulfur Dioxide1 HourPrimary75parts per billion99th percentile of 1-hour daily maximum concentrations, averaged over three years
Sulfur Dioxide3 HourSecondary50parts per billionNot to be exceeded more than once per year
LeadRolling 3 month averagePrimary and Secondary0.15micrograms per cubic meterNot to be exceeded


Relevant Contacts

Table 2 lists contact information for several individuals/organizations associated with air quality data collection, air quality compliance planning, and rules/policy formation and implementation in the MAG counties area.

Contact information for relevant individuals and organizations associated with the air quality .
AgencyNamePositionContact InformationRelevancy
Utah Division of Air QualityDave McNeillBranch Manager, Planning801-536-4037
Utah Division of Air QualityBowen CallSection Manager, Air Monitoring801-536-4215
Bureau of Land Management UtahLeonard HerrPhysical Scientist, Air Quality801-539-4094
BLM air resource specialist in Utah
U.S. Forest ServiceJeff SorkinRegional Air Program Manager, Intermountain Region303-275-5752
Air program manager, contact Debra Miller if not available
U.S. Forest ServiceDebra MillerAssistant Regional Air Program Manager303-275-5319
Assistant air program manager, works on Utah air quality topics for the Forest Service

Data Download
  GIS Data Map Service Web Map Document  Tabular Data  Website
Data NameData ExplanationPublication DateSpatial AccuracyContact
Air quality emission permits and air sampling stations from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)

Utah environmental databases including air quality, air sampling stations, emission permitsVariableVariableUtah Division of Environmental Quality
DAQ Annual Reports
Annual summary of air quality trends and monitoring stations.YearlyAddress-based location, 1:12,000Utah Division Air Quality
Historic Air Quality Data from EPA
EPA Air Quality System Data MartCurrentVariableU.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Live Air Quality Data for United States
Current and forecast air quality conditionsCurrentVariableU.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Live Air Quality Data from DAQ
Current air quality data, trends, and forecastCurrentAddress-based locationUtah Division Air Quality


  1. Utah Division of Air Quality. 2016.Utah Division of Air Quality 2015 Annual Report
  2. US Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 2004. Air Resources Management, RM #77
  3. Utah Administrative Code. 2016. R307-405, Permits: Major Sources in Attainment or Unclassified Areas (PSD)
  4. Wasatch County. 2016. Wasatch County General Plan
  5. Utah County. 2014. Utah County General Plan
  6. Summit County. 2015. Snyderville Basin General Plan
  7. Salt Lake County. 2004. Copperton Township General Plan. Salt Lake County Public Works Department, February
  8. Emery County. 2012. Emery County General Plan
  9. US Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 2004. Air Resources Management, RM #77
  10. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Air Resource Management. Last accessed: May 2, 2016
  11. World Health Organization. 2014.Ambient (outdoor) air quality and health: Fact sheet N°313, March
  12. 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
  13. Utah Economic Council. 2014.Utah Economic Outlook
  14. Utah Division of Air Quality. 2012.It’s Up To all of Us [Video file]
  15. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2009. State of the Science Fact Sheet: Air Quality
  16. Stewart, H. 2012. Air Quality is Important for a Healthy Economy. Utah Business, March 1