I've also read that the poor town of Lindon has even worst Air quality than
say Provo. Cursed by geography even more so than Provo. But, my Utah friends,
looking on the brighter side, Parts of California's San Joaquin Valley,
think Fresno, Tulare and, Kern counties have their own terrible winter air
inversions too. It would be nice if the respective regional air quality boards
had better air quality maps showing how bad the air really is. Earlier this week
I read parts of the The SJ Valley rated a "Purple" on the Local Air
quality Map and this bad-air condition has been going on since last Fall. Sheesh
We are seniors who choose to live in Baja California in order to have clean air
and warm temps forfive critical winter months. It's a great choice. But I
am sorry to note the change in Utah's wonderful mountain air. When we
moved here in 1983 from Calif. we thought we were in heaven. So sad that it is
now just a little sister to CA in terms of pollution and in violence. I
haven't heard the evening news in 3 months and I am grateful.
As long as the GOP control Utah politics nothing will ever be done on this
issue. Inversions are a natural occurence, pollution is not. IF you want
something done on the subject you need to get rid of our current politicans.
Lots of emotional arguments here that a unsupported by data, or by cost-benefit
analysis. Cleaning up the air "at all costs" is as ridiculous and
sticking our head in the sand. Utah needs to look for economically viable
solutions to a phenomenon of nature that will make cleaning up the air difficult
at best. Wiping out thousands of jobs, or effectively taxing citizens into
financial ruin are not reasonable options.
I have a couple of thoughts to share regarding the comment "Beijing just
lives with it"....well...we don't. Here is what we do:1)
Car lottery. If you want to buy a car, you must sign up for a CHANCE to win a
plate. They draw x number of names each month. You have to wait until your
name is drawn. No guarantees on how many months or YEARS you wait.2) Driving restrictions: EVERY car has a "no drive day" each week.
It is assigned by last number on your plate. The day is rotated every 3 months.
Weekends & holidays have no restrictions. 3) AQI 300+ projected
for more than three days: all schools, govt offices will be closed. This is to
decrease the traffic on the roads, hopefully leading to cleaner air on day 4.
(Shanghai has already "shut down" once this winter)4) No out
of area drivers. All plates are city issued. IE: someone from Provo/Ut county
could not drive in SLC. You would have to use Mass Transit once you arrived at
the city limits.Someone asked for "out of the box
solutions"....how about these???
Pledging to take bold and effective measures to clean up the air along the
Wastach Front needs to become a litmus test to elect any Governor or State
Legislator. There are solutions to clear the poison air that is hurting our
families. It is not so much the method as the political will that is lacking.
How can anyone seriously wonder if the air is that bad? All you need to do is
get a higher view of the valley air you are breathing. I don't need a team
of NASA Scientists to tell me that breathing air so thick with pollution that it
blocks the sun is harmful to my family.
Add a dollar a gallon tax on gas in SLC, Utah and Cache counties. That will slow
the pollution down.
Live in SG but often travel to SLC. We are amazed there's never a
connection made between smog in N. Utah and the huge amount of gunk pumped out
by IPP (coal fired power plant) in Delta 24/7. Made the drive yesterday and (as
always) the air this time of year is smoggy to Fillmore. As you pass
Holden/Delta, you can see the smog rolling out of IPP and pushing all the way
across the valley. Once north of Beaver, the skies are clear and beautiful
again. It shouldn't be that smoggy so far south -- most of this area
is open/rural farmland and the population not dense enough to account for it.
The most logical explanation (and clearly visible) is that it's coming from
IPP. The prevailing weather patterns naturally push it right up into the Wasatch
front where it's trapped by the mountain ranges around it. Sad thing is,
Utah doesn't keep any of the power produced there -- it all goes to
California, but we all get to enjoy the bad air produced by it!Sure it
would be great to try to reduce traffic, but we believe the bigger culprit is
Jim 1 - While this is true ... In our school district the busses and their
routes were reduced significantly due to "cost", so more children have
to walk, ride or be driven than just 15 or so years ago. Kids who live just a
little too close for busses or too far to walk, usually carpool. Those who
choose to drive their kids do so because kids just are not as safe as they used
to be, walking to school like we did when child predators weren't as big a
threat. It's a safety issue for most parents. The state should offer
school districts assistance with bus funding and get those cars out of the
carpool loop! BTW - All the school expansion construction in our
district includes building bigger drop off loops than those schools were
designed to accommodate 50 years ago, so they take away busses due to cost and
still spend money on building carpool loops. Silly.
@FelisConcolor "First off, we are discussing ambient air pollution levels
because that is what all this hysteria is about: " Many of people I know in
the environmental activist community are very concerned with local air
pollution, like with Stericycle. As to the monitoring station situation, that
system is not sufficiently granular. For example the North Salt Lake monitoring
station is not in North Salt Lake at all - it's at 18th north in Salt Lake.
@Marxist:A couple of quick points:Frontrunner is
"commuter rail" while TRAX is "light rail." Light rail is
designed for more frequent stops at shorter distances between stations, while
commuter rail is designed for longer distances. It makes more sense for
commuter rail to use state of the art, clean, high efficiency diesel engines
rather than by electricity. You need to also factor in, if Frontrunner were
light rail, the amount of catenary needed to cover this distance would be
staggering.There may be plans for more stations in the future, but
it's not really UTA's problem about the poor families.Lastly, as you noted, TRAX Trains run by electricity. You do know where
electricity comes from...right? Electricity comes from electric power plants.
You do know what powers electric power plants...right? It's called coal.
I thought environmentalists hated coal with a passion?Hey, I have an
idea! What about solar powered trains! Maybe Solyndra could help? Oh
that's right, they went bankrupt. Maybe wind powered trains? Aren't
you folks on the left always telling us about the wonders of wind and solar
as long as the population increases. so will the pollution. funny nobody can
see the correlation.
Three factors that cause our inversions:1- Utah Valley is a bowl (I
know, obvious...right?)2- During the winter months (especially after
a snow storm), lower level air is colder than upper level air which causes
particulates to stay trapped in the valley. 3- Not enough wind to
move this still air out of the valleyInversions have always been in
the Utah Valley...always. What we don't need are the benevolent state and
federal bureaucracies stepping in and issuing countless new regulations to try
and remedy something that will always be here! This has the makings to be a
nightmare for both businesses and citizens when yet another politician steps in
IMO there is no quick solution, period. I don't think there is a solution
within our life-style parameters. We won't give up our cars, mass transit
for every day use is excessively time consuming and impractical for the majority
of people. Pie in the sky concepts of urban "villages" housing both
people and their jobs sounds nice but does not take into account our highly
mobile society and diverse workforce locations. And they would take decades to
design and build and hopefully succeed, if they eventually do so.If
this climate is making you ill, consider relocating. Doing the same thing
repeatedly and expecting a different outcome is a definition of insanity.
Putting yourself or loved ones in harms way for economic (job) or social reasons
indicates how much you value the health, dare I say the life, of your loved
one.I don't really understand people who recognize or speak of
the danger and negative health ramifications of this, sometimes, polluted bowl
of trapped air, and yet continue to live here and expose themselves to short or
long-term negative health effects. In short, this may not be the place, for
A number of years ago, we bought our first natural gas Civic. Now we own four
of them (two have been passed down to college age kids). It doesn't change
everything (but every little bit helps). The EPA calls the natural-gas Civic
the cleanest car produced in America (including electric cars) since they
started producing it in in 1998. 57% of the Wasatch Front air
pollution comes from cars and trucks I am told that the exhaust from our NGV
Civics are cleaner than the air that comes into the air cleaner on a bad air
day.Switch to natural gas. Stop burning wood. Don't let your
car idle. Install renewable energy as you are able. We can make a difference.
Install exhaust analysis meters at busy intersections and freeway on-ramps.
Give incentives to get repair or rid of gross polluters like old diesel
pick-ups. Press for change at all levels. If everyone does a little it gets
@carman "UTA needs to come up with better solutions." Yes, indeed.
Frontrunner needs to quit acting like a limited stop premium service. It needs
to make twice as many stops with more power in the consists to recover from
those stops. Frontunner now rolls by many neighborhoods, many of them poor,
without giving them any help whatsoever. I argued before the Frontrunner build
out, that it would be better for Frontrunner to be all electric for performance
purposes, with a slower build out to control the costs. But they managed to
make TRAX all electric, didn't they? Why not Frontrunner?
Marxist:First off, we are discussing ambient air pollution levels
because that is what all this hysteria is about: The current "red"
alerts are based on ambient PM 2.5 levels, so when people show up to protest
high pollution levels that is what they are protesting.Second, the
DEQ has strategically located its monitoring stations in areas which would be
expected to be the most polluted: West Bountiful, North Salt Lake, Rose Park,
Magna. They even have a monitoring station located next to a busy urban highway
(700 East). It's safe to assume that ambient levels of pollutants would be
lower in the non-industrialized areas of the valley.Finally, the
reason Utah near the top in prostate cancer incidence is because Utah men live
so much longer than their counterparts in other states: Prostate cancer is a
condition of old age; the more old men, the more prostate cancer cases.The CDC autism study which showed Utah had the highest rate was based on data
from a single county, and was compared to data from only 13 other states.
Hardly a representative sample from which to draw conclusions.
UTA is not a viable option for most commuters. The buses are slow and
infrequent, FrontRunner is slow, polluting diesel instead of much cleaner,
faster electric. Trax services a very limited set of destinations, and is
slow.UTA needs to come up with better solutions. The Express buses
were fast, efficient, and could be targeted at a specific demand level which was
relatively constant. Politics, bureaucracy, and a push to get money for
FrontRunner drove cancellations of the Express Buses. My commute time nearly
doubled when the Express buses were killed, I had to make multiple transfers
including being stuck in inclement weather on a number of occasions, so I gave
up and got back in my car. Before we had 75-100 people in a single vehicle.
Now some of those people drive 5-10 miles to stations that were previously a
mile or so from their homes. The rest are in their cars or much smaller car
pools, putting more congestion on the roads and more pollution in the air. Well UTA got what they deserved. Most of us who rode the Express buses
have given up on mass transit and are back into our cars, trucks and vans.
Converting all surface vehicles to natural gas would do the trick. Railroad
engines are not converting to natural gas. Hard to believe. Semis are
converting. All new city, county, and state vehicles should be natural gas.
Then a sufficiently large pool of natural gas vehicles would allow more filling
stations. All western states need to cooperate on this.
Inversions have been in our valleys before the Mormon pioneers. Now just put
more and more gunk in the air that gets trapped by what is a natural phenomenon.
It is about uncontrolled population growth, no foresight to build mass transit
structures (what we got is just a nice start but not by far enough). I guess we
are reaping what we sow...
Might this be the Clean the Air plan in five years?Check in with Wasatch
front physicians, surgeons and hospitals(Work around confidenciality law)?Determine how many people have been diagnosed with lung cancer and serious
lung disease(again)?Have all school children, pre-school - high school,
evaluated for lung problems(increased tax for such an undertaking)?If
statistics are "not too abnormal"(what will be considered abnormal)?Can the State of Utah keep making excuses( lots of other important issues for
Legislature to legislate)?Will the message continue to be "Just curb
your cars, no wood burning! Bring in more new homes and controversial money
making businesses" No worries.
I would suggest raising the age limit of smoking from 18-21 or just ban it all
in itself. And mandating a 4 day work week for state, city, and county
employees. Not necessarily working four 10's but allowing an employee to
work 32 hours verses the 40. The incentive for the employee would be working 32
hours if they carpool or take public transportation.
We have all seem them. Old clunker cars burning oil. You can barely see the car
for the cloud of smoke. When I visited Japan I noticed that there were no old
clunker cars on the road. Give the police the authority to stop these cars and
require an emission test. If they can't pass a test within three days then
impound the car if it caught on the road again. Not a total solution, it could
help. Any organization that operates a fleet of vehicles should consider
converting to Natural gas or propane. Provide tax incentives to car dealers or
individuals that sell a car for scrap. New cars are safer and cleaner. No
excuse for people to drive a clunker car. Carpool more.
Xert, Santa Monica, and you think the LA Basin has clear air more frequently
than UT? California Dreaming again? LA Basin and SF Bay area have more and
higher averages than UT! Must be those rose colored glasses! Utah's area of
pollution is a VERY small portion of the state. Certainly it is a problem, but
can't hold a candle to CA's domination.
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
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?
Is this the place? Conservatives love this air, it proves that Rush is right!
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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?
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.
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
We are drowning in environmentalist rubbish.
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
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.
"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.
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
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.