NEWS: Utah is the land of ski runs, pristine parks and a really bad smog problem

Los Angeles Times
By David Montero
Published: February 2, 2017

 

The air hung heavy in the valley like damp, dirty cotton balls stagnating in a frigid bowl.

It’s winter in Salt Lake City, and as smog is prone to do, it settled in for a spell this week. Some people walking downtown wore surgical masks. Schools kept kids inside during recess. A few folks headed to the mountains to relieve itchy eyes and scratchy throats.

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency dinged the region with the dubious distinction of having the worst air quality in the nation — and it was likely to be in the top spot Thursday as well.

“It’s so gross,” Holly Sorensen said.

Sorensen drove up to Park City with her three children to escape the foul air. Standing near the bunny slope as 3-year-old Emmett tossed a snowball at her, she dreaded the depressing descent into the valley and through the wall of gray gunk to her home.

“You feel helpless,” she said. “I don’t really know what else to do.”

For a long time, neither did Utah.

Though smog has been settling over the Salt Lake City area for years, Utah officials have taken little action — it just hadn’t been a priority.

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