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Unhealthy Air Returns

Web cam courtesy of the University of Utah / TimeScience

It was a nice break while it lasted but unhealthy air is back in the skies above Salt Lake and Cache valleys.

Red air conditions were met in Salt Lake County on Friday, and in Cache Valley pollution levels were unhealthy for sensitive groups for parts of the day.

Mandatory restrictions were in effect in several areas Friday and Saturday, meaning the use of wood, coal and pellet-fired stoves and appliances is prohibited. 

The Salt Lake County Health Department on Friday announced it was encouraging residents there to report violators via a telephone hotline or online at slcohealth.org.

Richard Valentine is the manager of the agency's air quality bureau. He says asking everyone to comply with mandatory actions can make a difference in air quality.

"We are in a serious situation and everybody needs to do their part," he said. "If we can identify a few people who may not be aware of (the restrictions) and correct that, it will help."

Callers in Salt Lake can also use the hotline to report motor vehicles emitting excessive exhaust. Valentine said it's a good idea to limit driving and consolidate trips this weekend, and he reminds residents to not use outdoor fire pits, meat smokers or charcoal grills on mandatory action days.

"We can all make changes in our lifestyle that may be a little uncomfortable for us, but when we have these inversions we need to respond to it the best way we know how," said Valentine.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality reports that motor vehicles and area sources including homes and small businesses are responsible for 90 percent of Salt Lake Valley's air pollution.