Geneva Steel may be the greatest contributor to the county's particulate air pollution problem, but it's not the only one.
Burnell Cordner, director of the state Health Department's Bureau of Air Quality, on Tuesday told the Orem City Council that increased regulation of wood-burning stoves and further studies of road dust may be needed to control the particulate problem."We will have to devise ways to maintain the (Environmental Protection Agency) standard," he said. "We have a lot of problems to solve."
Recent reports have explained that Utah County has more fine particles in its air than the EPA deems safe for public health. The particles, 10 microns or smaller (thus the name, PM10) can reach the surfaces of the lungs where oxygen enters the blood and carbon dioxide is expelled.
High concentration of PM10 particles can cause respiratory problems, damage lung tissue and alter the body's defense system - in extreme cases, causing death.
In 1987, the EPA set a standard limiting acceptable concentration of PM10 to 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air for any 24-hour period. The annual average must be less than 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air per day, the agency said.
PM10 values that exceed the standard have been recorded in North Salt Lake, Magna and Lindon. The Lindon monitoring station recorded levels exceeding the standard 15 times in 1988.
Geneva has pledged to work at controlling its particulate problem, but Cordner said Utah County may need to regulate other contributors.
"I fully expect to be back here (Utah County) in a few months to talk to citizens groups about wood-burning stoves," Cordner said. "We could ask residents not to use them during a major inversion. We could limit use for about a week at a time."
Cordner said newly manufactured stoves are designed to create fewer fine particles, and parts can be added to old stoves to limit particles, but the technology still "has some bugs in it," and cannot be trusted to control the problem.
Cities might also have to change the way they keep winter roads clear, he said. Salt and sand used on streets also add to the unhealthful particles in the air, he said.
"We are waiting for a study from Denver. Once we get a little more information, we will know if a higher percentage of salt or of sand in the mixture would help the problem, or what other solutions are advisable."
Cordner said that by July, the EPA will require a written plan of how Utah County proposes to clean up its air. The agency will require the county to satisfy the plans requirements as soon as possible, but not later than three years after the plan is approved.
PM 10 contributors in Utah County Percent of total
Steel production facilities 66
Wood burning 16
Road dust 10.5
Diesel/fuel oil 6.5
Misc. (autos, salt, gas, other) 1
(1988 figures, provided by Bureau of Air Quality)