Wintertime Smog

Posted on February 16, 2023

Did you know one of the worst times for smog in our Airshed is during the winter months? Air quality is compromised when furnaces are turned up, wood-burning fireplaces are used more often, and vehicles are idling more due to the cold weather.

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) typically rises when a temperature inversion occurs. During a temperature inversion, cold air is trapped near the ground by warm air several hundred meters above it. The warm air acts like a lid, and polluting substances can’t rise and disperse as readily. As a result, a higher AQHI rating is realized.  Read more about temperature inversions here.

Moderate to high AQHI ratings may lead to health problems for at-risk populations, such as children, the elderly and those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.

What you can do

People can reduce their impact on air quality by not idling vehicles when parked, avoiding excessive fireplace or wood stove use, and using energy-efficient products. People can also keep track of current and forecast local AQHI levels on the FAP website, and if levels are high, adjust their outdoor activities accordingly. You can also follow FAP on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.