Clearing the air: That air you're breathing may be slowly killing you
Any of those improvements that have to be made to curtail emissions will cost money, likely passed on in higher costs in products and services, and will take years to implement.
McNeill and Bird say fixing Utah's air quality is a complex chemical problem not unlike a shooting gallery at a traveling carnival. Take a shot at one moving target — a certain type of pollution — and reductions in that category can make another classification of pollutants grow worse.
"The target we have is a difficult target," Bird said, "and we will continue to be in non-compliance well into the next few years. It could be well up until 2019 until we achieve the standard."
The Environmental Protection Agency proposed lowering the standard for PM2.5 even more, a move clean air advocates said is long overdue.
"There is no safe level of pollution," Moench said. "What needs to be done is draw a line in the sand, in this case 'in the air' whereby every segment constantly lowers its emissions so that the net effect is as close to zero emissions as we can get."
Curbing pollution has become a problem stretching beyond industry and now resting at the door of each Utah resident. And facing the costs and inconveniences will not hit everyone equally.
Cache County residents who have not had to contemplate annual emissions inspections on their vehicles will see that change. So could Tooele and Box Elder counties.
The simple act of igniting a pilot light on a water heater will become more rare as those appliances are phased out, and simply prohibited, under a new rule being pondered.
On chilly winter nights, the pleasure of a cozy fire may be a thing of the past as new construction could forbid fireplaces or wood-burning stoves in homes, or the state air quality division calls "no burn" days earlier to try to stave off inversions.
Those pushing for change say cleaning the air must become more than just the job of some people, some industries, and more than just a voluntary act.
"It's going to take everything," said Sam Klemm, with the Wasatch Front Regional Council. Political will, money and sacrifice.
"Any bit of pollution you can get out of the air, we all benefit from it," Moench said. "Having a 'safe' level of pollution is a concept that is no longer valid."
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