“Believe it or not, the air has gotten better,” the headline of Jay Evensen’s recent well-intentioned opinion piece about air quality along the Wasatch Front, makes for a good tourism slogan, but it misrepresents the status of Utah’s air. Evensen omitted some important information, leaving the mistaken impression that the air quality problem in Utah is trending in the right direction.
First, the average annual Air Quality Index (AQI) Evensen refers to is not a good indicator of how air pollution affects our health and whether the air is truly “getting better.” Averaging the bad air and good air days hides the seriousness of very unhealthy air quality periods like this past week. Most of Utah’s metropolitan areas currently do not meet federal air quality standards because of the number of days each year they exceed unhealthy air pollution thresholds, not because of the average AQI over the course of a year.
Read the entire letter here.