NEWS: Dust study provides clues about air pollution coming from dry Great Salt Lake

Standard Examiner
March 22, 2017
by Leia Larsen


Scientists and state officials are a small step closer to figuring out what’s blowing in from the shriveled Great Salt Lake.

They’ve suspected a growing exposed lakebed contributes to dust storms along the Wasatch Front and Cache Valley, but couldn’t pinpoint how much dust came from the Great Salt Lake versus other sources. What researchers do know, however, is that the fine particles coming out of dust, such as PM 2.5 and PM 10, cause harmful health effects.

Dust from decimated lakes has caused major human health problems throughout the world, including the Owens Lake bed in California. Even Utah’s Sevier Dry Lake, desiccated from water diverted for farming, is a major source of dust pollution along the Wasatch Front, despite its location hundreds of miles away.

“People have been really concerned about air quality given the amount of exposed (Great Salt Lake) bed,” said Laura Vernon with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. “I think we’re just now starting to dive into that research.”

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