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Environmental officials already worried about air quality due to heat

SALT LAKE CITY – Don’t let the clear skies fool you.  The Department of Environmental Quality are already asking people to take steps to stem pollution caused by heat.

Forecasters think we’ll see some cooler temperatures over the weekend, but, until then, National Weather Service Forecaster Monica Traphagan says we’ll be roughly 15 degrees hotter than normal, with temperatures getting to the low or mid 90s.

“’Normal’ for this time of year in Salt Lake City is 78, or so,” Traphagan says.

Even when temperatures cool off, the break in the heat is not expected to last long

Traphagan says, “It looks like we do have a cold front starting Saturday night into Sunday which would bring temperatures back to normal, upper 70s as a high on Sunday.  It looks like we warm up again after that, so, it should be a short-lived cool down.”

The pollutant that has state officials especially concerned, for now, is ozone.  Department of Environmental Quality Spokesperson Donna Kemp Spangler says vehicle exhaust combines with the heat to make the air quality worse.

“It gradually increases throughout the day and it hits the high point usually during the hottest part of the day, which is any time between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” she says.

This problem isn’t just happening in larger cities. She says they’re spotting it in rural areas, also.

“The federal health standard for ozone is 70 parts per billion.  Escalante, on a 24 hour [average] did reach that,” Kemp Spangler says.

Their department is asking people to limit their driving and idling, and they’re recommending people avoid exercising in the heat of the day.