Air Quality

Air Quality
4:22 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Air Quality Researchers Use TRAX to Collect Data

A screen shot of the data collected on a TRAX train shows the variation in air quality as it moves through the valley.
Courtesy wasatchweatherweenies.blogspot.com

Atmospheric scientists at the University of Utah have installed an air quality monitor on a Utah Transit Authority TRAX train. It’s helping them get a detailed picture of air pollution around the Salt Lake valley.

Until now, Salt Lake valley researchers have been mostly limited to air quality data from one location at Hawthorne Elementary School.  But Logan Mitchell, a post-doctoral research scholar in atmospheric sciences has been working with the UTA to change that.

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Air Quality
1:40 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Air Quality Board Seeking Public Comment on Wood Burning Ban

Rocky Mountain Stove & Fireplace

  In his State of the State address to the legislature last January, Governor Gary Herbert suggested a season-long ban on wood burning as a way to improve Utah’s winter air quality.  The state Air Quality Board will decide soon whether to make that the law. 

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Air Quality
6:00 pm
Wed November 26, 2014

EPA Tightens Ozone Pollution Limits

Utah's 29 counties just barely meet the current standard, and state leaders have complained that stricter standards that have been rumored for years would push virtually all Utah counties out of compliance. But EPA says regulations that are already in place will go a long way toward reducing ozone pollution.
Credit Utah Department of Transportation

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy announced plans Wednesday to tighten limits on ground-level ozone pollution.

“The science clearly tells us that ozone poses a real threat to our health,” said McCarthy in a conference call with reporters, “especially to growing children and older Americans and those of us with heart or lung conditions and those who are active or who work outside.”

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Air Quality
6:00 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

'Leaky' Energy Industry Prompts Regulations

With the improved scientific understanding of air pollution in energy fields of eastern Utah, new regulations are coming online to stop leaks from energy-related facilities like this dehydrator.
Credit Utah Department of Environmental Quality

    

Regulators are relying on a growing body of scientific information to craft better pollution controls for the energy industry. They’re drawing on some of the results that scientists have gathered on the Uinta Basin’s ozone pollution problem.

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Air Quality
5:00 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Scientific Sleuthing Begins on Utah's Pollution Problem

Credit Erik Crosman / University of Utah

Utah’s winter pollution season officially gets underway this weekend, and thanks to $1 million from the Legislature, new research is focusing on what causes the state’s air-quality problems and how to solve them.

A dozen studies will look hard at what makes sooty winter pollution so nasty in Utah and why ground level ozone gets so high. They also will zero in on air chemistry and the weather’s role.

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Air Quality
6:13 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Utah's Trying to Fast-Track Clean Car, Clean Fuel

Supporters say federal Tier 3 standards will go a long way toward cleaning up Wasatch Front air pollution. They say the clean car and clean fuel rules will be like getting the pollution from 4 of every 5 cars off the road.
Utah Department of Transportation

State air-quality officials are still trying to bring next-generation clean cars and clean fuel to Utah. They told lawmakers Wednesday they are making headway.

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Air Quality
7:30 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Utah Hasn't Seen Much Ozone Pollution this Year

Downtown Salt Lake City normally has days and even weeks worth of smoggy summer days. But favorable weather this summer kept the skies scrubbed pretty clean of ozone pollution.
Credit Paul Sableman / Flickr Creative Commons

    

Ozone pollution in Utah barely reached unhealthy levels this year. The summer smog season ended Oct. 1, and the Utah Division of Air Quality reports none of its 15 sampling sites statewide exceeded the federal cap.

Kevin Seely sometimes gets lunch with his coworkers at downtown Salt Lake City taco cart that’s just a few blocks from where state air regulators monitor ozone pollution. He’s not surprised to learn regulators recorded so few smoggy days this summer, because that’s what Seely saw with his at-home pollution indicator: his four-year-old.

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Air Quality
5:49 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Former Stericycle Employee Accuses Company of Burning Radioactive Waste

An anonymous man who says he is a former Stericycle worker disguises himself in an interview with Environews.
Environews USA

A former worker from Stericycle’s medical waste incinerator in North Salt Lake City has accused the company of illegally burning radioactive waste. Nearby residents are asking Governor Gary Herbert once again to shut down the incinerator.

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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
2:07 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Skeptical Reception for Bill to Allow Stricter State Air Quality Rules

The Utah legislature's interim Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment committee meets at the Utah State Capitol
Dan Bammes

  A member of the Utah legislature is trying again to change the law that keeps the state of Utah from imposing stricter environmental rules than the federal government. 

Republican Representative Becky Edwards of North Salt Lake had a similar bill in the last general session.  It passed the House, but it was defeated in the state Senate, in part because of opposition from industry.

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Air Quality
4:04 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

Breathtaking Fireworks Have Health Impacts, Too

One side effect of fireworks is particulate pollution. Many years the Utah Division of Air Quality sees spikes of PM 2.5 pollution that can be traced to fireworks on the 4th of July and Pioneer Day.
Credit Mike Renlund / Flickr Creative Commons

    

Fireworks are already exploding in neighborhoods throughout Utah. KUER’s Judy Fahys reports report on the potentially unhealthy side affects of this pastime.

Many enjoy the colorful spectacle of a fireworks display. But the pollution caused by fireworks makes others sick.

Just like the stuff that causes Utah’s winter smog, the smoke from fireworks is particle pollution.

“Any kind of pollution makes me cough,” says Richard Keene, a Salt Lake City resident whose lung problems are aggravated by fireworks smoke.

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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 Overstock.com 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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Air Quality
2:19 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Summer Means Utah's Ozone Season is Here

Downtown Salt Lake City skyline view from the east campus of the University of Utah.
Credit Brian Grimmett

The state departments of Health and Environmental Quality are both calling attention to the unofficial arrival of the ozone season this week. Ozone is the product of auto and industrial exhaust heated by the summer sun. Kellie Baxter is with the health department’s Asthma Program. She’s urging Utahns to be aware of ozone’s potentially harmful effects.

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Air Quality
5:04 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Lawmakers Question Emission Tests

Vehicle safety and emissions programs in northern Utah came under scrutiny by a legislative committee on Monday. Lawmakers wonder if they are consistent between counties and effective.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

    

Lawmakers wonder if the safety and emissions programs in place in northern Utah need to be updated. Legislators considered the question on Monday during a meeting of Administrative Rules Review Committee.

Vehicle owners in northern Utah counties are required to have their vehicles inspected periodically for safety and emissions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires it as part of a statewide plan to protect the air from pollution, especially exhaust from dirty old cars.

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Air Quality
6:00 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Hazardous Air Pollutants: Initial State Study Finds Low Levels

Utah's Division of Air Quality is wrapping up a report on hazardous air pollutants. Plans are to continue the monitoring to identify significant risks to health.
Credit Mark Schoneveld / Flickr Creative Commons

Utah’s air-quality scientists continue to piece together the puzzle of the state’s pollution problem. Recently, they’ve been studying a new piece of it, the toxic components that might be tied to cancer and other severe health conditions

The state Division of Air Quality began to look at toxic chemicals in the Salt Lake Valley’s air pollution after an outcry from clean air advocates last winter.

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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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