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.
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.
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.