air pollution

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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:

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.  

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.

Brian Grimmett / KUER

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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo courtesy Foxboro residents

Republican State Senator Todd Weiler of Woods Cross says he’s filing a bill to ban medical waste incineration in Utah. The announcement comes after Stericycle’s North Salt Lake incinerator allegedly exceeded its permitted levels of toxic pollutants and falsified its emissions tests. Nearby residents and environmental activists have called for the incinerator to be closed down. 

Andrea Smardon

Erin Brockovich and her team of environmental activists have made their presence known to North Salt Lake officials.  An investigator who works with Brockovich spoke to city councilors and the mayor Tuesday night, asking them to exert some local control and help protect citizens from the air pollution emitted by Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator.

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich is turning her attention to North Salt Lake City. At the request of residents, Brockovich and her team have decided to conduct an independent investigation into air pollution violations by Stericycle and the company’s medical waste incinerator. Angry residents and activists are protesting in front of Stericycle Thursday evening demanding that Governor Gary Herbert shut it down.

Utah Clean Energy

Utah’s Public Service Commission is meeting at the Capitol this week to discuss options for improving air quality along the Wasatch Front through the use of alternative-energy vehicles.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature tasked the Public Service Commission to investigate how alternative-energy vehicles can improve air quality along the Wasatch Front. Kevin Emerson of Utah Clean Energy was at the first of this week’s hearings. He says electric vehicles are the best way to reduce emissions.

Andrea Smardon

Activist groups and North Salt Lake residents are planning another protest of Stericycle, a medical waste incinerator accused of violating pollution limits and falsifying emissions tests.  The event on August 15th is being planned after state regulators gave the company a second extension to decide if it will challenge the allegations against them.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a settlement with Chevron. The company has agreed to pay a $384,000 penalty for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its refinery in Salt Lake City.

Utah regulators are trying to educate people on the dangers of ozone, an invisible gas produced by smog that doctors say taxes the lungs of even healthy people.

The press conference took place under clear blue skies at a park in Woods Cross, with children playing nearby. It seemed like a nice day, but Director of the state’s Division of Air Quality Bryce Bird says ozone often goes overlooked because people can't see it.

The state’s Director of the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) says there is a possibility the agency will revoke the permit of Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake.  DAQ Director Bryce Bird met with concerned members of the community, and health and environmental advocates today (WED). They called on the agency to shut down the incinerator, which they say is an urgent public health threat.

North Salt Lake resident Natasha Hincks Henderson

North Salt Lake residents are stepping up pressure to close a medical waste incinerator in their neighborhood. Environmental and health advocates are joining them in a protest outside Stericycle’s incinerator Tuesday evening, and representatives from the group will be meeting with the Director of the state’s Division of Air Quality to voice their concerns Wednesday morning. Among the protestors concerns is the use of a bypass stack which allows the company to release unfiltered, toxic pollutants like dioxin and mercury directly into the air.

North Salt Lake resident Natasha Hincks Henderson

Environmental advocates and concerned residents will be holding a protest Tuesday evening at Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake. They want the incinerator – which emits dioxins and other toxic chemicals - shut down.

Protest organizer Bradley Angel is Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. He says Stericycle’s incinerator is a direct threat to the health of the families in the neighborhood.

Women who live in areas with polluted air are up to twice as likely to have an autistic child than those living in communities with cleaner air.  That’s according to a new national study from Harvard University published online in Environmental Health Perspectives. KUER’s Andrea Smardon reports on what this might mean for Utah - which has the highest autism rates in the country, and occasionally the worst air quality.

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