Salt Lake City and Winter Inversions – How Do They Affect You?

If you are a native of the Salt Lake City area, you might be familiar with the term winter inversions. As a heating, air conditioning and indoor air quality company, Best Heating & Cooling has worked to help keep your home’s air clean and comfortable, all year long, inversions or no.

What are winter inversions?

An inversion occurs when normal atmospheric conditions in the winter become inverted. Normally cool air resides above while warm air resides below, so when an inversion occurs, the inversion traps a dense layer of cold air under warm air.

This switch in the layers means that the warm layer traps pollutants in the cold air, closest to the valley floor…closer to you and your lungs. During the months of December through February, prolonged inversions can lead to high levels of fine particulate pollution, per the city of Salt Lake City. Inversions typically occur following a snowstorm because the new snow pack enhances the colder temperatures near the surface.

Pollution in Utah?

The combination of Utah’s unique topography, winter weather and the high vehicle emissions, the location is prime for winter inversions.  The pollution caused by winter inversions is called fine particulate pollution (PM2.5). The 2.5 means the particulates measure less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers in diameter.

Health concerns

The risk of ill health conditions because of winter inversions and fine particulate pollution affects people of all ages. It can pass through the nose and throat, lodging deep in the lungs and pass across the lungs into the cardiovascular system. This can increase respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, aggravating lung diseases like asthma and bronchitis. If you have heart problems, such as congestive heart failure and coronary artery diseases, symptoms can be aggravated with fine particulate pollution as well.

Those affected the most include children and the elderly.

What can you do?

As a resident of Utah, one of the most important things you can do is be aware of your impact on the environment. Be smart about your driving—drive less and drive smarter by combining trips, carpooling, or even walking to destinations.

Make sure your air filter has been changed in your home, to help reduce the amount of fine particulate pollution entering the home. Keeping your heating system well-maintained will help reduce the amount of work it has to do to heat your home, as well as help bring in cleaner air. Using a hybrid air cleaner from Best Heating & Cooling can help clean your Salt Lake City area home’s air and keep you breathing easier.

Salt Lake City provides air quality text alerts during the winter months for residents of the area. Stay up-to-date on the latest air quality conditions by texting “cleantheair” to 69302, or you can visit CareToClearTheAir.org for more information.

winter inversions Salt Lake City