The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report ranks Salt Lake City’s air 7th worst in the nation. On a report card, that’s an “F” in ozone and single-day particle pollution.
The Association uses data gathered by the US Environmental Protection Agency from monitoring stations around the country including tribal lands. Jamie Riccobono is the Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Utah. She says Salt Lake City’s rank slipped from 8th worst between 2010 and 2012 due to a more than 35 percent increase in the average number of unhealthy days from 2012 to 2013.
“Dirty air effects everyone,” says Riccobono. “It causes Americans to suffer from potentially fatal medical problems.”
Riccobono says reducing the harm from ozone and particulate pollution will get more challenging as temperatures warm up. She says most people still have the attitude that one person can’t make a difference.
“Well, everybody needs to breathe. Every person has lungs and that means it’s everyone’s problem. And if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters,” says Riccobono, “That means that it’s up to all of us to make changes.”
Riccobono says the Lung Association recommends strengthening outdated ozone standards, reducing carbon pollution from power plants, and having federal limits on the ability of states to opt out of Clean Air Act protections.