Clean Air

It’s no exaggeration to state that air pollution has become the dominant environmental issue in northern Utah over the past few years. When the smoggy inversions we all dread settle into northern Utah’s urban valleys, our levels of fine particle pollution (PM 2.5) reach “unhealthy” for everyone, before the weather changes and the toxic funk lifts.

The Issue

Utah is officially “out of attainment” with federal Clean Air Act guidelines limiting PM2.5 pollution. Those are tiny particles of dust and pollutants which burrow deep into our lungs and even enter our blood and organs, harming the health of our children and families. It’s a problem most noted in mid-winter, when soot builds up in our valleys, as weather stagnates. Increasingly though, our invisible summertime ozone problem is mounting and will also cause our state to fail to meet federal air quality standards in this respect as well.


Emissions from our cars, homes, businesses and industry are all responsible, driving levels of fine particle pollution well above safe levels. We at HEAL believe that there is no one answer to the dirty air that plagues our valleys. We must clean up our cars and trucks and encourage people to ride transit, bicycle and walk more. However, we also need to make our buildings, homes and businesses as efficient and clean as possible, limiting the pollution they emit. And, lastly, we need to make sure that heavy industry does everything it can to reduce pollution, rather than the modest cuts it has put in place recently.

Taking Action

Beginning in 2012, HEAL began working hard to urge state officials to do more to clean the air. Thousands of Utahns have joined us, participating in online actions sending strong messages to policymakers, attending historic rallies on the steps of the Capitol, and packing hearings where key air quality decisions are made.

We’ve pushed for state support of federal gas and car standards, advocated for more funding for monitoring equipment, encouraged the Division of Air Quality to require deeper emissions cuts, particularly to industrial pollution, and also worked hard behind the scenes with state legislators to develop dozens of air quality measures.

To learn more about that work, check out the video we made in 2013! “Smog Attack!”

In just a few years, Clean Air has become one of our core issues. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished – and know that with your support we’ll continue to do everything we can to make our beautiful valleys safe for everyone.


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Recent Posts about Clean Air…

Clean Air Community Night: Wednesday!

Believe it or not, Utah has been out of compliance for levels of a very hazardous pollutant (PM2.5) for nearly a decade (I bet you DO believe it). We've all seen the valleys fill with the grey-brown clouds for far too long.

Because of our air pollution problems, the State of Utah has been tasked with creating a crucially important plan to reduce emissions in the years to come. They've been working on developing this plan for months and the full plan is slated to be released in September or October. This means that the coming weeks are CRITICAL for urging officials to include bold, innovative policies. This “Serious State Implementation Plan” offers an opportunity to cut toxic PM2.5 emissions while also ensuring our communities and businesses thrive. The Clean Air Act requires Utah to take a long, hard look at any measure which any other state has adopted to clean up its air. There are many examples that could work in our state, like limiting wood smoke or implementing new technologies to reduce pollution from "heavy duty" and "non-road" trucks, buses, and equipment. 

It's time to be bold. 

The winter is right around the corner.
It's time to get Utah's PM2.5 pollution under control before the wintertime inversions set in.
Do you want to know more and be involved in the process of creating this plan? HEAL is hosting a Community Night this Wednesday that will be all about the State Implementation Plan and ways to nudge the Department of Environmental Quality to make decisions that will help us all breathe easier. 

Please Join Us: 
What: HEAL Utah Community Night: It's Time to Get Serious About the PM2.5 SIP!
Where: Marmalade Library, 280 W 500 N, Salt Lake City, UT 84103 (In the Multipurpose room)
When: 6:30pmWednesday, July 26th
Here's a link to the Facebook event if you'd like more information!

Want a say in the SIP process?

You're in luck! We've created an action alert so that YOU can contact the DEQ & Gov. Herbert and encourage the construction of an ambitious SIP. 
Please share this action alert with your networks, too! Just share this link:


Matt's Moving On; Become HEAL's New Executive Director

We're sad that Matt is leaving, but this opens an opportunity for YOU to become a part of the HEAL family. Applications Due August 14thMore Info Here »


Fireworks, ozone lead to worsening summer air problem in Utah

Fireworks, ozone lead to worsening summer air problem in Utah
And increasing ozone levels from hot summers are becoming as much of a health threat as the soup of particulates trapped in Utah's winter inversion.


Up and down the Wasatch Front, air monitoring machines noted the same thing at the same time: a spike in particulate pollution between 10 p.m. and Midnight on July 4.

It's not hard to understand why, especially if you live in an area where neighbors on all sides set off fireworks that night.

"We're seeing higher and higher levels of particulate pollution across the valley, especially surrounding the 4th of July," said Ashley Soltysiak, Policy Director for the environmental advocacy group HEAL Utah.

The levels ranged from orange, meaning unhealthy for sensitive groups, to dark red, meaning hazardous to anyone who has lungs that still take in air.

To see the report, click here: here



Ding, Dong, the Sandy Trash Burning Scheme is Dead!

A troubling trash incineration project proposed for Sandy which HEAL and our allies fought is officially dead! (Check out today’s Salt Lake Tribune story.) Last year, we let you know when it looked like the Navitus “waste-to-energy” had been abandoned, but it wasn’t until this week that we were certain.

Woo hoo!

There’s more than one way to win environmental victories. HEAL, our allies and Sandy residents deeply researched “gasification pyrolysis,” identified its flaws, met with city officials, penned comments to state air quality officials, rallied citizens to public hearings and talked to reporters.

It paid off! Now, thanks to our collective persistence, an experimental trash-burning scheme that has never been tested in the USA won’t be built in the heart of Salt Lake County, in the midst of an area that already grapples with pollution problems.


Before I let you go, I wanted to draw your attention to this week’s episode of the HEAL Utah Podcast. I interviewed former Salt Lake mayor Ralph Becker and had a very interesting conversation. In the podcast episode, Ralph opens up about the role the press played in the 2015 race, raises concerns about the administration of his successor, Jackie Biskupski, discusses what cities can (and can’t) do about climate change and offers tips about how to bridge political divides in this deeply partisan era.

You can listen to the HEAL Utah Podcast interview with Ralph Becker on the web here. For full information on how to subscribe to the podcast -- we’ve had 85 great episodes! -- visit this page, or just search for us on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, or wherever else you find podcasts.

Warm summertime regards,


HEAL Utah Executive Director Matt Pacenza




  1. Great post! Sadly, 80% of the population in the world is exposed to PM 2.5.

  2. I’d need to check with you here. Which is not a
    thing I usually do! I love reading a post which will
    make people think. Also, thanks for letting me to comment!

  3. I tried to sign up for updates to get involved but I
    After inputting all my info and submitting, I got an error. “page could not be found.”

  4. It is time to take A Stand! Wile we still can there is A trump,et blowing the charge for fossel fuels ,If we do not make our stand Sat 21,17 We may not be able to hold the small ground we have taken back,,,, Rusty Healey photography

  5. Please share my story of the personal impact of our the UT air. Hey everyone, I started a fundraising campaign for Reunite this Mother and Daughter. Please tap to donate- in UT. Thank you.

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