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Bad Air Bedevils Utah

For a state that prides itself on being a nature lovers' paradise, a growing struggle with hazardous air pollution threatens Utah's very identity. Dan Frosch examines the factors contributing to the epidemic, and some of the proposed solutions.
February 25, 2013, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Utah's unique topography attracts nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Unfortunately, it also helps to create a vexing pollution problem "where atmospheric inversions during the winter months lead to a thick fog of dirty air cloaking the [Wasatch Front]." And it seems to be getting worse. "According to [Utah’s Division of Air Quality], Salt Lake County has experienced 22 days this winter in which pollution levels exceeded federal air quality standards, compared with just one last year."

"The air pollution has gotten so bad at times that it has prompted warnings from local doctors, spawned protests at the State Capitol and led to a variety of legislative proposals in the hopes of confronting the problem before it gets worse," writes Frosch.

“'If the 40,000 women in Utah who are pregnant suddenly started smoking, that would constitute a genuine health emergency,' said Dr. Brian Moench, an anesthesiologist who leads Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, a group that has urged Gov. Gary R. Herbert, a Republican, to declare a public health emergency. 'But our levels of air pollution are causing the exact same consequences as if all these women were smoking.'”

"In an interview on Thursday, Governor Herbert said the state had taken a number of steps to address the pollution: urging people to take mass transit, meeting with energy companies to develop emission reduction plans and reducing the use of state vehicles."

Full Story:
Published on Saturday, February 23, 2013 in The New York Times
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