Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Air Pollution Emergencies

Air Pollution Emergency Rule

Under sections 550–562 of the Rules for the Control of Air Pollution in Idaho (IDAPA 58.01.01), known as the Air Pollution Emergency Rule, DEQ is authorized to manage and remedy pollution levels that may constitute a health emergency. The rule is designed to do the following:

  • Define criteria for an air pollution emergency.
  • Formulate a plan for preventing or alleviating such an emergency.
  • Specify procedures for carrying out the plan.

The Air Pollution Emergency Rule outlines criteria that enable DEQ to take appropriate action when levels of regulated air pollutants cause or are predicted to cause a health emergency. The rule identifies four stages or levels of an emergency, with each stage addressing a progressively more serious air quality event.

Stage Title Description
1 Forecast/Caution The National Weather Service issues an Atmospheric Stagnation Advisory, or an equivalent local forecast is issued, triggering an internal watch by DEQ.
2 Alert Air quality has degraded, requiring industrial sources to begin air pollution control actions.
3 Warning Air quality has further degraded, requiring control actions to maintain or improve air quality.
4 Emergency Air quality has degraded to a level that will substantially endanger public health, requiring implementation of the most stringent control actions.

Air Pollution Emergency Criteria

Levels of pollutants in the atmosphere are determined through analysis of meteorological and ambient air quality monitoring data gathered by DEQ. Four criteria stages have been established for carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 and 10 micrometers or less (PM2.5 and PM10), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). The criteria apply to any situation or circumstance where pollutants reach, or are predicted to reach and persist, at potentially unhealthful levels.

Following are the criteria levels for each of the four stages of an air pollution emergency:

  Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4
CO NA 17 mg/m3 (15 ppm) 8-hr avg. 34 mg/m3 (30 ppm) 8-hr avg. 46 mg/m3 (40 ppm) 8-hr avg.
NO2 NA 1130 µg/m3 (0.6 ppm) 1-hr avg.

282 µg/m3 (0.15 ppm) 24-hr avg.
2,260 µg/m3 (1.2 ppm) 1-hr avg.

565 µg/m3 (0.3 ppm) 24-hr avg.
3,000 µg/m3 (1.6 ppm) 1-hr avg.

750 µg/m3 (0.4 ppm) 24-hr avg.
O3 NA 400 µg/m3 (0.2 ppm) 1-hr avg. 800 µg/m3 (0.4 ppm) 1-hr avg. 1,000 µg/m3 (0.5 ppm) 1-hr avg.
SO2 NA 800 µg/m3 (0.3 ppm) 24-hr avg. 1,600 µg/m3 (0.6 ppm) 24-hr avg. 2,100 µg/m3 (0.8 ppm) 24-hr avg.
PM2.5 80 µg/m3 1-hr avg.

50 µg/m3 24-hr avg.
NA NA NA
PM10 385 µg/m3 1-hr avg.

150 µg/m3 24-hr avg.
350 µg/m3 24-hr avg. 420 µg/m3 24-hr avg. 500 µg/m3 24-hr avg.

Actions Required During an Air Pollution Emergency

Emergency criteria apply to any situation or circumstance where pollutants reach, or are predicted to reach and persist at, potentially unhealthful levels. Once an episode stage is reached or DEQ has determined that reaching a particular stage is imminent, emergency action corresponding to that stage will remain in effect until air quality measurements indicate that another stage (either lower or higher) has been attained. At such time, actions corresponding to the next stage will go into effect. This procedure will continue until the episode is terminated.

The following actions are required during each of the four air pollution emergency stages:

Stage 1: Air Pollution Forecast and Caution

  • Open burning of any kind is prohibited.

Stage 2: Alert

Includes the measure for Stage 1 and the following:

  • Using burners and incinerators to dispose of solid waste is prohibited.
  • Operating fuel-burning equipment that requires boiler lancing or soot blowing is limited to between noon and 4 p.m.
  • Commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities using coal or residual fuel oil must switch to natural gas or distillate oil if available.

Stage 3: Warning

Includes all measures for Stages 1, 2, and 3 and the following:

  • All places of employment must either stop operations immediately or reduce emissions to the maximum extent possible.
  • When an emergency episode is declared for carbon monoxide, driving motor vehicles is prohibited except in emergencies or with the approval of local or state police or DEQ.

Stage 4: Emergency

Includes all measures for Stages 1, 2, and 3 and the following:

  • All places of employment must either stop operations immediately or reduce emissions to the maximum extent possible.
  • When an emergency episode is declared for carbon monoxide, driving motor vehicles is prohibited except in emergencies or with the approval of local or state police or DEQ.

Keeping the Public Informed of Air Pollution Emergencies

It is DEQ's responsibility to inform the public of air pollution emergencies. Via the news media, DEQ takes the following actions during air pollution episodes:

  • Defines the extent of the problem
  • Indicates actions taken
  • Provides the air pollution forecast
  • Gives notice when the next update will occur
  • Outlines the procedures that must be implemented by the public, commercial, institutional and industrial sectors
  • Issues specific warnings and advice to those who, because of acute or chronic health problems, may be most susceptible to the effects of the episode.

Staff Contacts

Air Quality Manager
David Luft
DEQ Boise Regional Office
1445 N. Orchard St.
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0550
david.luft@deq.idaho.gov

Air Quality Manager
Shawn Sweetapple
DEQ Coeur d'Alene Regional Office
2110 Ironwood Parkway
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
(208) 666-4602
shawn.sweetapple@deq.idaho.gov

Remediation and Air Quality Manager
Rensay Owen
DEQ Idaho Falls Regional Office
900 N. Skyline Drive, Suite B
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
(208) 528-2650
rensay.owen@deq.idaho.gov

Air Quality Manager
Philip Hagihara
DEQ Lewiston Regional Office
1118 "F" St.
Lewiston, ID 83501
(208) 799-4370
philip.hagihara@deq.idaho.gov

Air Quality Manager
Melissa Gibbs
DEQ Pocatello Regional Office
444 Hospital Way #300
Pocatello, ID 83201
(208) 236-6160
melissa.gibbs@deq.idaho.gov

Remediation and Air Quality Manager
Bobby Dye
DEQ Twin Falls Regional Office
650 Addison Avenue West, Suite 110
Twin Falls, ID 83301
(208) 736-2190
bobby.dye@deq.idaho.gov

DEQ Resources

Air Pollution Emergency Rule: What Is It, What Does It Do?

Related Pages

Burn Restrictions and Bans