UTAH (ABC4) – Air quality in Utah has been a concern for many over the years. Even during a historical pandemic when many of us traded in our day trips for a home office, overthrow continues to be an important topic of discussion.
With an unreasonably warm start to 2021 leaving the first real snowfall of the year until the end of January, we have to ask, how has all this affected Utah air quality, and is more being done good?
Interestingly, perception may not be reality.
On September 7, 2020, Salt Lake City was ranked as one of the worst cities for air quality in the world by IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company specializing in the protection against air pollutants and the development of air quality monitoring.
Utah Doctors for a Healthier Environment advised people to take as many precautions as possible to protect themselves from air pollution, including:
- Stay indoors and use air purifiers to improve indoor air quality.
- Do not make barbecue. Not only does Barbecue increase the pollution you inhale, but it significantly increases the toxic chemicals you inhale through your skin and clothes.
- Do not exercise at high levels of pollution.
- If possible, do not add pollution while driving your car.
- Eat healthy, with lots of foods rich in antioxidants.
However, as the pandemic continued with its mandates and limitations, and the year 2020 approached its end, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ) announced a History of Air Quality:
“Over the last two decades, and even more so within the last ten years, Utah has seen significant reductions in air emissions across the country. These reductions have come from industry efforts, government programs and most importantly, the actions of individual residents. ”
Utahns rightly rejoiced in breathing cleaner air, but then the Utah Department of Air Quality warned there was still more work to be done.
“While achieving federal PM2.5 quality standards is a milestone, our work is not done,” says the Utah DAQ. “Winter upheavals following a snowstorm will continue to pose air quality risks in Northern Utah. Utah will need to continue its efforts to improve air quality to ensure that it continues to meet federal standards. air quality. “
Becky Close, Utah Environmental Program Manager, tells ABC4 how all of this data is defined.
Pollution is defined as particulate matter, particles that have a certain size as PM2.5.
“So PM2.5 is determined through numerous observers across the state,” Close informs. “As PM2.5 monitors measure air pollutants by the minute and by the hour, the data is then tracked and sent to the EPA.”
According to Jared Mendenhall, also with the Utah DAQ, there are about 24 active observers across the state.
20 of those monitors are sitting on the Wasatch front and Cache County.
“Between Logan and the Spanish Fork, there are most of them, there are some in Saint George and there are some in parts of the Uintah basin,” he adds.
According to Close, when it comes to PM2.5, air quality in Utah has actually improved significantly over the last twenty years.
On the UDAQ website, air quality trends and updated daily, as seen below.
“We will still have days from here to there, that there is a reversal, but when you look at the current monitor data, those values are quite low,” she informs.
While experts agree that air quality is improving, the latest data illustrates that there is more work to be done when it comes to the effects of Utahns air quality and health.
or 2019 Utah Risk Factor Oversight System the study shows 9.9% of adults in Utah suffer from asthma, almost 1% above the national average of asthma.
The Utah Department of Health regulates air pollution as a major contributor to inflammatory disease.
5.6% of Utah children battle with respiratory disease.
Close suggests that the reason for improving air quality is for the last 10 years they have been working on state implication plans.
“These are plans that focus on reducing emissions, of small and large industrial resources,” she shares. “These rules then reduced the pollution over time.”
This improvement is evident in light of the Trump administration repealing 175 different environmental / public health / climate regulations under an analysis from Columbia University.
One of the most important was the restoration of automatic discharge standards.
Dr. Brian Moench, President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, points to his penetration of current air quality in Utah.
“Given that the Utah Department of Environmental Quality has often stated that about half of the pollution on the Wasatch Front comes from vehicles, a return to fuel efficiency translates into more pollution for everyone, including the Wasatch Front.” Moench.
Nationwide, automobile pollution increased in 2019 for the first time in five years, according to a January report by EPA. However, according to Becky Close, air quality in Utah in general has seen significant declines despite this.
Although air quality is improving, there is still a long way to go to comply with both Drs. Moench and UDAQ.
“Utah has made great strides in air quality over the last 10 years … I hope we can maintain that standard for years to come,” concludes Becky Close.
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