Comments about ‘Drowning in Utah's dirty air: Utah families, top elected officials search for solutions’

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Published: Saturday, Jan. 25 2014 11:20 p.m. MST

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Salt Lake City, UT

I for one am actively looking to move out of state--only because of this air. When weeks and weeks pass when I can't even go for a walk in my neighborhood because it's harmful to my health, my quality of life really suffers. Enough of this nonsense.

Provo, UT

I don't like the dirty air either but most families and children survive it okay. For these families with children who have poor immune systems I wonder if they worry as much about what their children are eating as they do about what they are breathing. Are these kids eating lots of sugar, white flour products, and junk with corn syrup and food coloring?

Let's clean up the air but let's look at the whole health picture and not blame solely the air.

Salt Lake City, UT

"muddying Utah's reputation as a pristine, clean place to raise a family, grow a business."

Utah's reputation as a pristine, clean place! Good heavens! What world has this person been living in? Utah has a reputation for many things. Pristine and clean is not one of them. You want me to list the superfund sites throughout the Salt Lake Valley? Or just take a drive north on I-15 past the refineries. Or take a look south west from just about anywhere in the valley, see that huge strip mining operation? Pristine indeed. Or look at the radiation storage facility, or how about the medical waste incinerator in the middle of a subdivision in North Salt Lake, or look at the Utah politicians that want to wrest control of federal lands away from the Feds so Utah doesn't have to abide by their environmental regulations, or look at all the Utah politicians that would eliminate the EPA.

No, in Utah the environment has always taken a backseat (way, way, far in the back) to businessmen wanting to make a quick buck here. Reputation for being pristine and clean. Please.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

I live in Beijing, China...and have for 18 years. I spend 3 weeks in UT during the Christmas holiday period...and 6 weeks in the summer. Even on the very worst days winter pollution days...there is no comparison of the two cities, in my personal experience. I am empathetic to the plight of the family in this story, and others who suffer the affects of dirty air....the solution many Beijinger's use is air purifiers in their homes and apartments. Commercial buildings and many schools also have them in their central air systems. While this doesn't help the air outside...it does help. But please, quit the comparison with Beijing, where you can taste the pollution and your eyes and noses sting when you go outside most days, and on the worst days, you drive with your headlights on and can look straight at the sun without damaging your eyes. I have NEVER experienced that in UT.

buck murdoch
minneapolis, MN

This article says it all--except for one big omission: wood smoke's major role in air pollution. Utah won't be able to get a handle on air pollution without banning wood burning--it's that simple. Trying to "educate" the public before acting to restrict burning will do nothing, just as education did little to help people quit smoking until bans were in place. Residential recreational burning must be addressed even more than industrial sources. Because it is in our neighborhoods, where we live and breath, that the need to clean our air is the most urgent. Banning wood burning would be the least expensive and most cost effective way to clear our air. And it needs to happen soon.

Mcallen, TX

We are drowning in environmentalist rubbish.

Red Smith
American Fork, UT

No More Houses/Businesses/Industry on Wasatch Front.

The Wasatch Front air is sick, because of congestion, cars going 75 mph on road to limitless destinations to get a burger, $Billion dollar road projects in the wrong locations with sick airshed, and basically very poor planning.

Having the dirtiest air in the nation in the highest birthing area of the nation is just plain stupid. The cause is sick air is the Wasatch Front Valley Bowl. Our beautiful Wasatch Mountains created a bowl limiting the amount of people that can live in its Valley.

The carrying capacity of the Wasatch Front Valley airshed has exceeded its natural carrying capacity for people making grandpa, grandma, mom, dad,children, cats/dogs sick.

What is the point of a deluxe education system, modern buildings, and ipad education if the mothers of students pull their children from school to literally save their lives because of dirty air caused by over development along the Wasatch Front Valley?

We can see the dirty air we breath. It's time to reduce mph for on the highways, stop UDOT projects which increase car counts, stop building permits. Nature created an area which will not tolerate an unlimited population.

Potsdam, 00

This a rather emotional update then any scientific information to cover reasons and distribution. It needs to be better so some of the experts can start a discussion.

There is need for much more information.
I am very concerned for future plans, but for now this is just not good enough.

Taylorsville, UT

The bad air is terrible. Some of the problem comes from living in a valley surrounded by mountains. I understand that the native americans of another era here mentioned the smoky valley. Certainly traffic and growth have contributed. What can be done? We can't just take mass transit because the system is set up to get us downtown and back. Going somewhere across the valley isn't viable because one has to travel downtown first. It just takes too much time! Besides, what about the pollution that buses cause? Most of us don't have the extra time needed to accommodate these logistical problems to take mass transit. Working moms want a car available in case they need to go somewhere to solve a child problem. If you must work overtime, the mass transit schedule isn't always available when it is needed. In Mexico City you can't drive on certain days. People in Bejing just live with it. Could someone who thinks outside the box come up with a workable, innovative solution?

North Salt Lake, UT

The assertion that there is no "safe" level of exposure to air pollution is ridiculous and patently false; such a statement ignores not only the basic principles of toxicology but reality itself: Utahns, despite supposedly enduring the "worst" air pollution in the nation, live longer, healthier lives than residents of almost every other state in the US.

Utah's life expectancy is consistently among the top 5 in the nation. The state's lung cancer incidence rate is the lowest in the nation by a huge margin, and the overall cancer incidence rate is one of the lowest as well. The incidence rate for heart attacks and strokes are well below the national average, as is the incidence rate for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Even the incidence rate of childhood asthma is significantly lower than the national average.

(All the above data are available at the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control, but since the Deseret News does not allow links I cannot post them).

While there are some persons who are more sensitive to pollution, the truth is for the overwhelming majority of Utahns air pollution is little more than a seasonal irritant.

salt lake city, UT

Great article. This family isn't the only one suffering. It hurts even the healthiest of children, even if you can't see it. There are sooo many mothers in Utah, and we are charged with the most important job in the valley - protecting and raising our most valuable resource. Are there not already enough things for a mom to worry about other than every single breath her children take?? Maybe the lawmakers won't help yet because we're just a bunch of women and children, but real men are supposed to be there to protect women and children. Time for our state to man up to the job!

jim l
West Jordan, UT

And these same families probably drive their kids to school, and to practice, and to everything else. We used to walk or ride our bikes. Our parents did not cart us around. Look at a school parking lot during drop off time, major congestion.

Santa Monica, CA

I wonder if the problem will begin to get cleared up when it starts becoming obvious that football and basketball recruits are shunning the U and BYU because of our filthy air? The responses of "there's no way we're the absolute worst!" And "Why, there must be four other places in the world with worse air, aren't there?" Leave me to doubt that any moves of substance are forthcoming. Even with posters on these issues, I sense more of the age old Utah comeback "if ya don't like it here so much why doncha just leave?" Than any righteous and determined effort to actually do something about it. As for me, I left the pea soup of my beloved home town for the beaches of Southern California years ago. And the air is beautiful here in LA. To be fair, there are smoggy days in parts of LA, (clear days too) but a bad inversion day in SLC makes Los Angeles look pristine by comparison.

CPA Howard
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

My suggestion to those whose suffer because of the bad air quality, move. I'm sure there areas you could move to with better air. However the downside is your standard of living my suffer, you won't have many of the benefits you enjoy living in the urban areas.

In 1930 my dad suffered from asthma and the doctor told my grandparents they would need move from Arkansas to dryer area, so rather lament the problem they packed up there belongings and moved to California.

Big Bubba
Herriman, UT

People are shouting for lawmakers to do something. Well folks there are no easy solutions to this problem. Let's not throw money at the problem just to make ourselves feel better. We need to come up with viable solutions before attempting unproven and costly "fixes".

St. George, UT

That's not Utah's dirty air you're talking about; it belongs to the overpopulated Wasatch Front. You need to stop equating Utah with the Wasatch Front, which is a very small part of the state. Most of the air in Utah is crystal clear, a beautiful attraction for visitors.


I agree there needs to be improved mass transit. The buses and trains all pollut, but when divided by the number of passengers it is less per person than if one were driving their own car. I know UTA is gradually switching to hybrid buses.
The main problem with UTA is scheduling. Living in Utah county I have worked at different places in SLC and found that UTA typically takes at least twice as long as driving, even at peak traffic hours. At off peak, even longer because of UTA's reduced schedule.
Red Smith nailed it about UTA increasing car trips, especially when they extended Frontrunner south. I used to take the express bus to downtown SLC in one hour, no transfers, no car trips, but now we have to drive to the station, which for me is 5 miles away. UTA made it worse last fall when they inexplicably cancelled ALL bus service to the American Fork station. I take Frontrunner to my job in mid Salt Lake Valley, but I carpool on both ends to and from the stations. This saves me almost an hour but still makes me car dependent.

one vote
Salt Lake City, UT

Is this the place? Conservatives love this air, it proves that Rush is right!

Salt Lake City, UT

Re: FelisConcolor I hardly know where to begin with you. First, you only talk about general overall air pollution levels. The fact is, air pollution is often very local, e.g. disadvantaged neighborhoods next to manufacturing or people living along freeways. We know from theory that such individuals suffer from locale. But DEQ has not done any risk assessments for local areas. Second, we really don't know what is in our air, especially at the local level. DEQ measures a narrow range of pollutants. If you don't look for it, you don't find it. Third, Utah's lower overall cancer rate is due to the LDS lifestyle. You don't consider other maladies where Utah is a leader - like prostate cancer and autism. What do you make of that?

I readily agree that living in a modern commercial society involves trade-offs. We have to put up with some environmental degradation, but in Utah we don't really know what we are dealing with - the head in the sand approach.

I also note that you live in NSL. Every time pollution control devices of local industries vent, we get it! Stericycle? Refineries? Feel comfortable?

Bruce A. Frank
San Jose, CA

Realize that those agencies that call all air pollution carcinogenic are the same who label CO2 a pollutant. But, because of the arrangement of the "basin" like configuration between the Wasatch and the Oguirrh mountains, no matter how low the emissions in the SL Valley, during extended inversions, pollutants are going to be a problem. In a State where is was deemed reasonable to build a plant to pump-down the Great Salt Lake (rather than, at the time, opening more flow through the railroad causeway) I am surprised that the suggestion has not been presented to build giant vortex fan stacks around the valley blowing upwards to break through the inversion cap and "vent" the valley (I am sure the taxpayers would agree ;-D). Remember south winds before a storm brings equivalent dust particulate from the southern deserts. If civilization is going to exist in the valley, this problem cannot be solved. I'd advise those sensitive to it to move higher up the canyons

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