Tom Smart, Deseret News
An inversion blankets Salt Lake City on Jan. 30, 2007. Average pollution levels are about 10 times higher in Beijing than in Utah.

Protesting air quality is "illogical," says Russell Bender ("Can't outlaw pollution", Feb. 18), but his own logic is seriously flawed. Bender states: "Since time immemorial, we have had temperature inversions with the accompanying air pollution." Wrong. About 1,000 years ago, the same weather inversions likely occurred at times in these mountain valleys. However, natural forest fires and dust storms would not produce 30 days of medically dangerous air pollution.

Now fast forward 1,000 years. Utah has over 2 million people, major interstates, traffic exhaust, refineries, factories and many other worsening polluting sources. Bender says that some of the highest industrial emissions in the country "have been quite well filtered." Tell that to families with more autistic children from living near coal-fired power plants or people living near freeways, which produces a higher prevalence of childhood asthma and leukemia.

Scientific medical studies confirm that death rates from many diseases literally rise as air pollution rises. We cannot change the weather, but we can modify pollution sources. So, to Utah's governor and legislators: unnecessary deaths will only increase the longer we wait. When will you take bolder political leadership on this issue?

G.H. Ross, M.D., former president of American Academy of Environmental Medicine