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Sources of Air Pollution

Air pollution comes from many sources, including natural sources (wind-blown dust, wildfires), mobile sources, area sources, and point sources.

Below are descriptions of various nonnatural sources of air pollution. Salt Lake County Health Department's Air Quality Bureau primarily regulates air pollution from motor vehicles (a mobile source) through our vehicle emissions program and the burning of wood or other solid fuels (an area source).

The Utah Division of Air Quality regulates other sources of air pollution.



Mobile Sources

Mobile sources of air pollution include vehicles on the road as well as non-road mobile sources like trains and airplanes.


Point Sources

Point sources of air pollution are stationary, like a commercial business or industrial plant. These sources are usually large-scale.


Area Sources

Area sources of air pollution are stationary and on a smaller-scale than point sources. Examples include a fast-food restaurant, a farm, or a woodburning stove or fireplace.

Solid fuel burning (coal, wood, or pellets) is a significant contributor to the Salt Lake Valley’s air pollution. One fireplace emits as much particle pollution as 90 sport-utility vehicles, and the pollution from one traditional wood-burning stove is equivalent to the amount emitted by 3,000 natural gas furnaces producing the same amount of heat per unit. Even EPA-certified stoves still emit as much pollution as 60 gas furnaces.

Salt Lake County prohibits burning solid fuel in fireplaces or wood burning stoves and bans outdoor fires (including bonfires, patio pits and charcoal grill fires) on days that the State of Utah designates as either mandatory or voluntary air action (no burn) days from November 1 to March 1 each year.

Further, open burning of yard waste, grass clippings, weeds, tree trimmings, as well as burning trash, rubbish, tires, oil, etc. is not permitted in Salt Lake County at any time.

In Salt Lake County, the health department investigates complaints of solid fuel burning burning on air action days and may issue a notice of violation. Notices of violation can result in penalties up to $299 per day.

A large fire on a field. A large fire on a field.

Report Illegal Burning