air pollution

Air Quality
4:56 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Pollution Spikes: A New Holiday Tradition

Smoke from fireworks makes pollution counts skyrocket during Utah's 4th of July and Pioneer Day celebrations.
Credit Sarah Sammis / Flickr Creative Commons

Families all over Utah celebrated Pioneer Day with fireworks. The festivities also pumped lots of unhealthy smoke into the air that spiked air pollution. KUER’s Judy Fahys reports on the trend and Salt Lake City’s plan to deal with it.

Polluted air has become a kind of day-after tradition for Independence Day and Pioneer Day in Utah. Monitors at the state Department of Environmental Quality show those pretty pyrotechnics created enough smoke to top federal health standards in Salt Lake, Utah, Weber, Cache and Tooele counties Thursday night.

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Air Quality
3:00 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Ozone Rising Throughout Utah

Things people do -- like law mowing and other activities that create pollution from exhaust -- have an impact on ozone pollution levels. By minimizing heavy exertion and other activities outdoors between lunchtime and dinnertime, people can limit their exposure to harmful ozone.
Credit woodleywonderworks / Flickr Creative Commons


Forecasters are predicting nice weather for the holiday weekend. But clear, quiet skies also mean higher ozone pollution that can cause health problems.

Ozone is Utah’s “other” pollution. It’s odorless and colorless. But this summertime pollutant still poses a hazard to health. Bo Call supervises pollution monitoring for the Utah Division of Air Quality.

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Air Quality
4:55 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Clear the Air Challenge Begins Tuesday

The idea of Utah's Clear the Air Challenge is to get more people on TRAX light rail, to bike and to do whatever else they can to use cars and trucks less. This year there will be a big push to get use social media to get the word out.
Credit Steven Vance / Flickr Creative Commons


The sixth annual Clear the Air Challenge begins on Tuesday.  The idea is to help people learn what they can do to help protect the air from pollution. 

July is a big month for Jonathan Johnson. He’s chairman of the board of and he leads the Salt Lake Chamber’s clean-air committee. The pressure’s on because his company edged out perennial rivals Fidelity Investments and ADP to clinch last year’s Clear the Air Challenge in the corporation category.

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Energy & Environment
6:00 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Utah Prepares for New Climate Plan

Rocky Mountain Power's Carbon Plant near Helper is scheduled to retire next year. New climate pollution regulations from the Obama administration require states to find ways to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming, and power plants are responsible for a more than one-third of that pollution nationwide.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency released an ambitious plan Monday to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. Several Utahns are already working on next steps.

David Folland, a leader of the grass roots Citizens Climate Lobby in Utah, is pleased to see progress finally being made on the issue.

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Air Quality
5:10 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

New Wood-Burning Curbs Considered for Business

State air-quality regulators are considering expanding the wood- and stove-burning bans to include businesses and industrial facilities.
Credit Erik Crosman / University of Utah

Burning wood in fireplaces and stoves has been forbidden for years whenever air quality gets bad in parts of northern Utah.

Now the Division of Air Quality is considering similar regulations for businesses.

The idea first came up when regulators were brainstorming in a public workshop last winter: Why not make commercial and industrial facilities comply with the same no-burn standards that homeowners do?

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Business & Labor
12:30 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Tooele County Residents Question Panel on Incinerator

A Tooele County resident looks over Stericycle's informational posters at a town hall event at Stansbury High School. (May 14, 2014)
Andrea Smardon KUER

Tooele County citizens met Wednesday night to talk about the possibility of letting Stericycle build a new medical waste incinerator in the area. After a series of informational meetings organized by Stericycle, this town hall was organized by residents.

The meeting at Stansbury High School was organized by Katrina Hill of Stansbury Park, who says she’s never done anything like this before.

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Health Care
4:37 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

State to Investigate Infant Mortality in Uintah County

Rock Point Cemetery in Maeser where some of the Uintah County babies who died in 2013 are buried.

A midwife in Vernal has brought attention to what she believes is an unusually high rate of infant mortality in Uintah County. She and some environmental activists believe the newborn deaths may be connected to pollution from oil and gas drilling in the area. State and local health officials are holding a public meeting Wednesday evening to discuss a possible study of the issue.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:30 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

State of the Air: Greater Salt Lake Gets ‘F’ but Shows Improvement

Creative Commons photo by Tim Brown, Infinite World

The American Lung Association released its annual report this week on the State of the Air across the country. The results for Utah are mixed.

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Environment & Public Lands
2:25 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Utah's Summer Smog Season Gets Underway

Driving less is one way Utahns can help protect the air from smog buildups on summer afternoons. Utahns often overlook the danger ozone pollution poses on their health.
Credit Utah Department of Transportation

Utah’s smog season is underway. Some call it Utah’s overlooked pollution problem.

Michelle Hofmann, a pediatrician and founder of the health advocacy group Breathe Utah, is used to hearing people complain about sooty pollution in the winter. But she says it’s harder for patients to grasp the impacts of ground-level ozone pollution, since it’s odorless and colorless.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:26 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Air-Quality Discussion Focuses on Solutions

Jonathan Samet, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, gave a keynote speech at the air pollution research retreat.
Credit Courtesy Photo / University of Southern California


Researchers, regulators and clean-air advocates gathered Monday to talk about Utah’s air pollution woes.

Jonathan Samet, chairman of Preventative Medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, focused his keynote speech on what else decision-makers need to know to build on America’s progress in tackling pollution.

“Research is important,” Samet said after his talk, “and we need it to guide the policymakers, so we can focus in on those sources that may be most critical.”

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Environment & Public Lands
3:27 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Preliminary Study Links Air Pollution and Suicide

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death nationwide, and the 8th leading cause of death in Utah. A new University of Utah study finds a link between suicide and elevated pollution levels in spring and fall.
Credit Ryan Houston / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study from the University of Utah suggests yet another link between pollution and health hazards: a correlation between dirty air and suicide that’s spurring even more questions.

Amanda Bakian, an assistant professor of psychiatry, says preliminary findings show more people commit suicide when nitrogen dioxide is elevated. And when is fine-particle pollution is elevated. But she notes the correlation is puzzling because the suicide-pollution link is strongest in the seasons when pollution is generally not that high, spring and fall.

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Environment & Public Lands
8:00 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Clean Cars Help Utahns Cut Smog Now

Cars and trucks account for more than half of the pollution on the Wasatch Front. New regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have the same impact as taking 4 of every 5 of today's vehicles off the road. State leaders and clean-air advocates say it will be a powerful tool to clean up the air year-round, in Utah and throughout the country.
Credit Utah Department of Transportation

New clean fuel, clean car standards promise to be the single best way to clean up Utah’s air. State leaders say they want to accelerate these so-called Tier 3 rules in Utah. Yet, car buyers are already taking matters into their own hands, at the steering wheel.

Another air-scrubbing storm has just passed through Salt Lake City. But Tom Hemmersmeier is still thinking about clean cars.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:24 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Impact Hub Salt Lake Tackles Air Quality

Impact Hub Salt Lake staff Ryan Chatterton and Alev Bilginsoy at the temporary "pop-up hub" at 44 Exchange Place in Salt Lake City. (March 24, 2014)
Andrea Smardon

Entrepreneurs, activists and policy makers are joining forces Wednesday to solve air quality problems along the Wasatch front. The new Impact Hub Salt Lake is hosting what they call an innovation lab focused on finding air pollution solutions.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:55 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Air Quality Advocates Grade Lawmakers

Air quality advocates present their grades for lawmakers at the Utah Capitol.
Andrea Smardon

Clean air advocates released their grades for Utah lawmakers Tuesday. Compared to past legislative sessions, lawmakers showed improvement, but advocates say there is still a lot of work to be done. 

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Environment & Public Lands
2:06 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Air Quality Commands Lawmakers' Attention

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Holladay, speaks at the pre-Legislature rally attended by thousands of Utahns fed up with poor air quality. Arent created the Clean Air Caucus, whose members championed several bills to passage during the 2014 Session.
Credit Judy Fahys


  The Salt Lake Valley was choking with winter pollution as the Legislature convened in January. Lawmakers were compelled to step up to the challenge to clear the air.

Thousands of Utahns rallied for air pollution solutions outside the state Capitol the weekend before lawmakers settled in. No one could remember another time that so many people came together to demand a stop to the smog. Sara Baldwin Auck is an advocate for Utah Clean Energy.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:25 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

House Advances Bill to Reduce Wood-stove Pollution

Sooty pollution from wood stoves would be cut with a bill to educate the public and help around 200 households that heat with wood in high-pollution areas to switch to cleaner sources.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

  A bill to reduce wood-stove soot in Utah’s high-pollution areas is headed to the Senate after receiving House approval Thursday. The bill would help fund programs to help people who rely on woodstoves alone to convert to cleaner home-heating alternatives.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:47 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Grants Help Small Businesses Reduce Emissions

ACS Precision Finish auto body shop tests out new water-based paint system that will help the company reduce its emissions.
Andrea Smardon

Small businesses now have access to funding that will help improve air quality. The UCAIR Air Assist program offers funds to small businesses to buy equipment upgrades that will reduce emissions. The first grant recipient is an auto body shop in Salt Lake City.

ACS Precision Finish is using about $15,000 of state money to upgrade from a solvent to a water-based paint system. Corey Kaggie, a painter in the shop, is dressed in a white protective body suit, goggles, and a face mask. She says the new paint certainly smells better.

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Environment & Public Lands
3:47 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Utah Bill Lets State Get Tougher on Air Pollution Laws

Utah House lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow state-specific solutions to air pollution.

Republican Rep. Becky Edwards, R- North Salt Lake, has a bill to loosen a law that prevents state environmental rules from being stricter than federal ones. She says Utah knows how to clean up its air better than the federal government does.

“HB121 allows for local control to address our local needs,” says Edwards. “This is another example of how states are more effective and do things better than the federal one-size-fits all solutions.”

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Environment & Public Lands
5:24 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Goodbye to Winter Smog? Forecast Says the Season's Last Inversion Starts next Week

This snapshot of the Climate Center's inversion forecast shows a likelihood of a weeklong inversion -- and the smog building -- beginning in about a week. You can see the page online at:
Credit Utah Climate Center


Skies have been smog-free in northern Utah for the past few days. Now the Utah Climate Center says we can breathe easy for at least another week.

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Environment & Public Lands
6:14 pm
Sat January 25, 2014

Capitol Protestors Demand Air-Pollution Action

Carl Ingwell (left) and Brian Moench (right) were the leading organizers of Saturday's rally on the Utah Capitol's south steps. Rep. Angela Romero (middle) was one of the half-dozen lawmakers who attended.
Credit Judy Fahys


A sea of people swarmed Utah’s Capitol steps and south lawn Saturday. Thousands gathered for the Clean Air, No Excuses rally just above winter smog blanketing the valley. Brian Moench, a co-founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, told the demonstrators they have a right to clean air.

“This is your state,” said Moench. “What goes on in the building behind us is your government. The air you breathe is largely what you make of it, either by ignoring it, making it worse by neglect or by fighting to make it better.”

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Environment & Public Lands
6:05 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Thousands Expected at Clean Air Rally Saturday

Thousands of Utahns say they plan to join a rally at the State Capitol Saturday. They want Governor Gary Herbert and the Legislature to do something immediately about poor air quality.

Salt Lake City folk singer Tom Bennett wrote his song, Governor We Cannot Breathe, to be performed at tomorrow’s Clean Air, No Excuses Rally.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:29 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Utah Foundation Releases Report on Air Quality

A new report tries to cut through some of the confusion surrounding Utah’s air-pollution problems. Shawn Teigen says he stepped back to take an impartial look at one of Utah’s most important issues. He’s a research analyst for the non-partisan Utah Foundation. His report released Thursday notes pollution has not trended up -- or down -- over the past 15 years. He’s found that smoke from solid-fuels like wood and coal is an unexpectedly big problem. He’s also learned that federal clean-vehicle, clean-fuel standards called Tier 3 will go a long way to clean up the air.

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Environment & Public Lands
9:40 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Lawmakers Unveil Air Quality Bills

Utah lawmakers say their new package of bills will help clear the air, especially on smoggy days like Wednesday.
Judy Fahys

A bipartisan caucus of Utah House members has unveiled a package of air-pollution bills. They say the proposals will Utah’s air easier to breathe. The measures include incentives for consumers to buy cleaner snow-blowers and weed whackers. There is one bill that would ban medical waste incinerators in the state. Another proposal would allow the state to authorize environmental regulations that are more rigorous than federal laws.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:54 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

U of U Students Develop Video Game App to Combat Air Pollution

Flickr Creative Commons

University of Utah graduate students are developing a video game app to help Utahns better understand the connection between their actions and the dirty air. 

Kerry Kelly is Associate Director of the University of Utah’s program for Air Quality, Health and Society. She says her role is to make sure this game is backed up by scientific evidence. But here’s one of the ideas they’re considering:

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Environment & Public Lands
4:42 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

University of Utah Announces Grants for Study of Air Pollution

Kerry Kelly University of Utah Air Quality, Health and Society Program

The University of Utah has awarded six researchers grants to study the consequences of regional air pollution.  The seed grants, which total $165,000, are the first to come out of a new cross-disciplinary program focused on air quality.  

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Environment & Public Lands
4:15 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Air Quality Bills to Focus on Changing Utahns’ Behavior

State Democratic Representatives Brian King, Joel Briscoe, and Patrice Arent at a 2013 air quality rally on the steps of the Utah State Capitol.
Andrea Smardon

Utah’s air quality issues became evident early this winter, and state lawmakers are working on a number of bills to address the problem. Most of them are focused on getting Utah citizens to change their behavior.

Air pollution was reportedly a hot topic at the most recent Utah Republican House caucus. But Republican Representative Jim Nielson of Bountiful says it’s not a partisan issue, and lawmakers have been working together to address it.

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Health Care
3:06 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

State Health Department Investigating Hazards of Medical Waste Incineration

Stericycle Medical Waste Incinerator in North Salt Lake
Brian Grimmett

The Utah Department of Health is doing a public health assessment in the North Salt Lake neighborhood near Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator. State officials say they are focused primarily on investigating levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the soil.

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Health Care
5:42 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Utah Hospitals Reconsider Medical Waste Disposal

Amid public concern about air pollution generated by Stericycle’s North Salt Lake incinerator, two major hospital systems in Utah say they are reconsidering their processes for disposing of medical waste. Officials from University of Utah Health Sciences and Intermountain Healthcare say they are exploring their options, but are continuing to use Stericycle’s incinerator for the time being.

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Environment & Public Lands
4:11 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Stericycle Denies Air Pollution Violations

Community members attend a town hall meeting at Foxboro Elementary School about Stericycle's incinerator.
Andrea Smardon

As activists and community members step up the pressure to shut down a North Salt Lake medical waste incinerator, Stericycle officials are denying the company violated emissions limits or rigged stack test results. They are challenging a list of citations filed by Utah regulators against the company's incinerator. That means the beginning of a legal process that could take months.

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Environment & Public Lands
5:12 pm
Wed September 11, 2013

Stericycle May Move Incinerator Out of North Salt Lake

The Foxboro neighborhood is adjacent to Stericycle's medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake.
Andrea Smardon

As angry residents continue to protest Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator and its toxic emissions, some local officials have been discussing the possibility of moving the plant to another location.

North Salt Lake Mayor Len Arave met with Stericycle’s  Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs earlier this week. He says he thinks the incinerator should find another home outside the city, and that Stericycle may be open to that possibility.

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