POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Thanks to a new system, residents of southeastern Idaho now have their most accurate air quality readings yet.
In early April, the Department of Environmental Quality - at the request of the EPA - installed an ozone monitor at the department’s existing air quality measuring station off of Garrett Way in Pocatello.
"The main benefit is that we are now able to inform the public what the ozone levels are in Pocatello," Clay Woods, a DEQ air shed coordinator, said.
"Ozone can cause respiratory issues, burning in your throat if you have asthma or pre-existing conditions like that, it can make them worse," he said.
The ozone monitor is the first in southeastern Idaho, according to Woods.
"We really don’t have any monitors," he said. "There’s an ozone monitor in Craters of the Moon National Monument and that’s considered a background monitor. So just what the ambient air there is. And so there was not really any monitors in southeast Idaho."
The system, installed in early April, continuously measures UV absorption through air samples. Those samples are then evaluated on the air quality index.
"Anything up to 50 is considered good and so you would expect no impact to anybody," Woods explained. "Moderate is getting to be more dangerous for sensitive populations. When you get up to 100, then it’s unhealthy for sensitive groups."
Woods says the ozone level is impacted by temperature, which would explain some recent numbers.
"When it’s hot and sunny, you get more ozone in the air and so we’ve already had a few days where we’re in the moderate air quality categories because of ozone," he said.
Air quality reports can be found on the DEQ website or through their hotline - (208) 236 6173.