Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY – Deseret Management Corp. announced a clean air initiative for February called "Save a Drive," in which a $100 winner will be picked daily from online readers who pledge to cut down on the miles they drive.
The Wasatch Front is plagued by temperature inversions each winter that cause air pollution spikes that are among the worst in the county. Dirty air is a health problem, linked to increases in respiratory problems, coronary disease and a greater onset of strokes. Last year, the World Health Organization said air pollution is also a carcinogen.
"We live here and breathe the same air as our audience," said Chris Lee, president of Deseret Digital Media, part of Deseret Management Corp. "Our employees and our management all feel that we should do everything we can to build awareness and encourage solutions to this problem."
The Deseret News print edition is also embracing the initiative to clear the air.
The daily print edition of the Deseret News will include at the top of its front page on inversion days a tip for how readers can help improve air quality. "We’ll also let readers know the forecast health level for the day and explain that readers can go online to make their reduced-driving pledges,” said Dave Schneider, Deseret News assistant managing editor.
As Utah air quality regulators have struggled to pinpoint ways to curtail that pollution — including instituting industrial controls and passing a bevy of new regulations — statistics show that vehicles are a big part of problem.
"We have learned more than half of of the pollution problems are caused by tailpipes on cars," Lee said. "By saving a drive, each of us can help improve the air quality and if each of us will do a little a little bit, that will help a lot."
Lee said the digital campaign is the first by the corporation to link action with a monetary reward.
"We do a lot of awareness building through our reporting in print, radio, television and online," he said. "But this campaign is solution driven. We know this won't solve the problem, but we are trying to stir solutions from the community. The creativity of how people save the drive is up to them."
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