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Herbert urges simple steps to help clear the air

Published: Thursday, May 2 2013 4:55 p.m. MDT

Gov. Gary R. Herbert declares May Clean Air Month for Utah and talks about ways Utah residents can help impact our air quality through simple changes, at the home of Glen McBride in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Gas cans, lawnmowers and special kinds of paint.

All three were highlighted Thursday in a media event held by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declaring May "Clean Air Month."

The collection of lawn care tools and household items are examples of choices people can make every day to help reduce Utah's nagging persistent pollution, Herbert said.

"We all, individually, through our everyday living," can commit to cleaning up the air, he said.

Herbert stressed that the Wasatch Front is confronted by seasonal bouts of spikes in air pollution that can only be tamed by a yearlong approach embraced by everyone.

Upgrading from a two-cycle to a four-cycle engine style of lawnmower is a choice homeowner Gary McBride made. McBride's twin-style home, across from the state Capitol, was the setting for the news conference, where Herbert also held up a can of fume-free paint bought off the shelf.

Herbert urged homeowners to upgrade to newer, more fuel-efficient, less pollutant emitting lawnmowers, to check for volatile organic compounds, or VOC, in products before purchasing household items and to invest in new spill-proof, fume-capped gas cans.

If 100,000 people tossed their pre-2009 gas cans and bought new ones, Herbert said that would amount to 400,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds being shaved annually from the air shed.

Eliminating 100,000 two-cycle lawnmowers in favor of the four-cycle engines or "human-powered" lawnmowers would reduce those same emissions by 310,000 pounds per year.

"Who knew?" the governor said. "It is something we are all learning about."

Herbert asked for the individual commitment even as he outlined what the state has already done — and has yet to implement — in its battle to come into compliance with federal clean air standards.

He pointed to the 15 tons of PM2.5 or fine particulate pollution that will be reduced each day once the full slate of more than 22 new rules are implemented by the Utah Division of Air Quality Control. Those same rules will take out 1.3 tons per day from sources like industry via upgrades to boilers, furnaces and heaters.

State government, too, has reduced its own contribution to the pollution problem by 10 percent, Herbert said, with its switch to clean-fuel vehicles. Another 7 percent reduction was achieved with its anti-idling program.

Bryce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, said even with the wide range of strategies being deployed to decrease pollution, the state's plan at this juncture fails to meet Environmental Protection Agency Standards.

Emissions need to be cut in the Salt Lake non-attainment area by another 10 percent, while in Utah County, pollution needs to be brought down by another 20 percent.

"We've gone after what's hard. Now what have to go after what is really, really hard," Bird said.

The governor, in conjunction with his declaration, also has details posted to his Facebook page to share information on how residents can reduce pollution.

Email: amyjoi@deseretnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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