Everyone deserves to breathe clean, healthy air.

Hot Topic: Does Your Town Experience Winter Inversions?

Cities throughout Idaho can experience some of their worst air quality during the winter months, well beyond the wildfire season. The cause is winter inversions, which occur when a layer of warm air higher up in the atmosphere traps cold air near the ground surface. This scenario prevents air from being circulated, meaning pollution levels build up in the air we breathe. A brownish-colored smog will form if inversion conditions persist, and the air will become unhealthy for people to breathe — particularly those who already suffer from respiratory illnesses.

We can’t control when winter inversions will occur but we can take steps to reduce the build-up of pollution. Most of the pollution caught in inversions comes from burning fossil fuels and wood in fireplaces. So when inversion conditions occur, try to limit the amount of driving you do, or better yet use your local public transit system or organize a carpool to limit the number of vehicles driving around (these are great ideas year-round, by the way!). Also, we all love to sit around a warm fire in the winter months, but try to limit the amount of wood burning you do — unless, of course, this is your primary source of heat throughout the winter months. And as always, regularly check on the air quality in your area so you’re aware of current pollution levels and what you should do to protect your health and the health of your family.

Protecting the Air You Breathe

Everyone deserves to breathe clean, healthy air, which is why clean air is at the heart of a lot of ICL’s work. It’s part of the reason we serve on eight different forest collaborative groups to build healthy, resilient forests better suited to handle wildfires and climate change. It drives our ambition to make Idaho a leader in renewable energy. And it’s the reason we strive to protect public health—by working to reduce air pollution from industrial activity and tracking any new laws or regulations that impact the air you breathe.

Idaho is known for our clean air, but it will only stay clean if we continue to protect it. Everyone can make choices that will improve the air around them—from choosing different transportation options to doing our part to prevent forest fires. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do right now to improve air quality, check out our most current work on air issues in Idaho:


Read about ICL’s work to protect your clean air by preventing tons of toxic pollution from a trash burning facility, convincing stakeholders to close a coal plant, and many other successes.