Clipper Online Editor
BOUNTIFUL – The air quality for several communities on or near the Wasatch Front are among the worst in the nation, according to the EPA.
On Sunday, the Salt Lake/Davis area was one of five other Utah communities listed as the absolute worst air quality in the country, according to the EPA.
By Monday, Utah's air improved, but 6 of the 24 communities listed under the Air Quality Index (AQI) “action days” (worst air) in the country were on or near the Wasatch Front (including Logan, Brigham City and Tooele).
The EPA website also predicted that most of the same areas of Utah would top the list again by Tuesday.
Utah Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson Donna Spangler told The Clipper that Utah's air quality is problematic, due to the persistent inversions in the state. Inversion occurs when snow stays on the ground and makes the lower atmosphere cooler than at higher elevations.
Spangler said 56 percent of the pollutants in Utah's air come from vehicles, while another 33 percent comes from homes and small businesses. Industrial pollutants comprise only 11 percent of Utah's bad air, according to Spangler.
What can be done?
Spangler says the only immediate solution is a good storm front, which is expected to happen late Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Such weather events usually provide fleeting relief, while dropping more snow, thus making the ground even cooler.
According to Spangler, the only thing that can help “clear the air” of pollutants is for drivers to control themselves. Carpools, less idling, lower speeds and use of public transportation are the best way to keep Utah's AQI a little more healthy, even if the inversions persist.
Spangler said the DEQ can encourage drivers, but unless motorists limit their time on the road, there's not much more the state can do.
“People are frustrated, and rightfully so,” said Spangler. “I wish we had more control.”