Air Quality | KUER 90.1

Air Quality

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Like the familiar refrain in the Netflix series Game of Thrones, winter is coming. Here along the Wasatch Front, that means we’re approaching inversion season when fine particulate pollution hangs in the Salt Lake Valley.

Judy Fahys / KUER News


We roll up in a tour bus to the white bones of what used to be a zinc plant in Donora, Pa. We pass the vacant lot where the steel mill was. Both industrial plants shut down decades ago, so it’s hard now to imagine this dull place as the epicenter of a world-famous tragedy.

Utah Division of Air Quality

Smoky September skies are dragging out a high-pollution trend that’s dogged Utah all summer.

File / KUER News

Utah’s air quality regulators say they’re still working on a comprehensive plan to clean up winter pollution, but they probably won’t get it done until weeks or even months after it’s due to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Wasatch Front businesses want environmental regulators to clean up the air. Dozens of companies are pressing for strong, ambitious solutions for winter smog.

KUER File Photo

Northern Utah has had more high ozone days this summer than it did in the past few years. That was the gist of the summary that Bo Call gave while speaking Wednesday at Utah’s Air Quality Board meeting.

Courtesy / Utah Division of Air Quality

Federal regulators are giving states like Utah another year to sort out their ozone-pollution solutions.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Susan Lee has always been the kind of person to bike to her kids’ soccer games, hike the Grand Canyon with them or ride 500 miles for charity. So, the diagnosis nearly three years ago was shocking. She had a lung cancer.

KUER News File

Federal regulators have a special category for “Hazardous Air Pollutants.” And, when scientists at the Division of Air Quality went looking a few years ago, they found a few of those 180 pollutants at elevated levels in the Salt Lake Valley.

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A new state law allows cooking with wood, even when winter smog makes northern Utah’s air unhealthy. Now new scientific data shows that wood-burning turns out to be a bigger part of the problem than anyone realized.

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The state of Utah and Pacificorp have been quarreling with the federal Environmental Protection Agency over what’s called the Regional Haze Rule, a decades-long effort to clear the vistas around Utah’s national parks.

Then the EPA decided last year that cleaning up southern Utah’s air would mean the company would need to install new, pollution-control equipment on two coal-fired plants in Emery County.

Now Congress is stepping into the fight

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Utah legislators delivered some big messages on public lands during this year’s 45 days of lawmaking. But air-quality and other environmental concerns saw only modest gains – along with some setbacks.

Utah Department of Transportation

Lawmakers finalized an incentive Wednesday for Utah’s refineries to bring cleaner “Tier 3” gasoline to the state.

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Clean-air advocates called on Utah Governor Gary Herbert Monday to veto two bills they say would negatively impact air quality in the state.

Lee Hale / KUER


The University of Utah is partnering with middle and high schools along the Wasatch Front to monitor winter air pollution.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

The Utah Division of Air Quality runs its pollution monitoring program out of a warehouse in West Valley City. Bo Call oversees it, and he looks on as a technician troubleshoots a busted pollution sampler – one of about a dozen.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

If you’ve seen or heard a Twin Otter buzzing close overhead lately, there’s a good chance Robert Mitchell was in it. He’s commander of this National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s small plane that’s loaded with scientific gear to gather pollution data.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Students from the Madeleine Choir School marched through the snowy, chilly morning Thursday.

They chanted “What do you want? Clean air. When do you want it? Right now” on their way to the Capitol steps. That’s where hundreds gathered to rally anyone who’d listen.

Lee Hale / KUER


Elementary School administrators are keeping a close eye on Salt Lake County’s air quality this week. New and slightly stricter guidelines from the Utah Department of Health could mean a little less recess time this winter.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Just in time for Northern Utah’s winter smog season, federal environmental regulators are seeking public input on the latest plans to cut pollution spikes.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

People buying new cars in the final days of 2016 might not realize it, but their decisions will affect air-quality.

Manny and Loralee Kurzius have just signed papers at the Tesla dealership for an electric car they’ve been longing for. Tax rebates are one factor for their year-end purchase. Pollution’s another.

“Clean air is huge for us,” says Loralee.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Environmentalists have complained for years about expanding refineries adding pollution to the Salt Lake Valley’s air.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

A new study names air quality as the second-highest priority for Utah voters. More than two-thirds of voters who were polled by the non-partisan Utah Foundation say they are pretty concerned about the issue.

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Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee says oil and gas companies would be doing a lot more to clean up pollution if they knew they could avoid sanctions from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Whittney Evans

Salt Lake City and the University of Utah are partnering to offer consumer discounts on electric vehicles. Together, they’ve negotiated prices with area car dealerships in an effort to get cleaner cars on the road.

American Thoracic Society and Marron Institute Report

The American Thoracic Society is one of the organizations that has argued for years that less pollution would mean healthier Americans. The Environmental Protection Agency seemed to be listening last year when it tightened national ozone standards – a little. But new research suggests that even tougher pollution controls could save lives and improve health.

KUER News File

Federal regulators have a special category for “Hazardous Air Pollutants.” And, when scientists at the Division of Air Quality went looking a few years ago, they found a few of those 180 pollutants at elevated levels in the Salt Lake Valley.

istockphoto.com: 8213erika

The smoke from fireworks skyrocketed pollution levels in Salt Lake, Weber, Tooele and Utah counties last weekend.  Monitors in Salt Lake County showed air quality ranging from unhealthy and very unhealthy for over four hours.

istockphoto

The seventh annual Clear the Air Challenge starts Friday. It’s a contest aimed at reducing summer ozone pollution that drew over seven thousand people last year. Together, they cut pollution by 646 tons.

Ozone Season Digs In

Jun 3, 2016
Judy Fahys / KUER News

Forecasters say warm, sunny weather is here to stay for awhile. That means the summer ozone season has arrived. And so have conditions for smoggy afternoons.

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