Utah Air Pollution

Polluted+skies+in+West+Jordan

Camryn Cooper

Polluted skies in West Jordan

Have you ever been outside and noticed smoky fog covering the view of the mountains and city? If you are unsure of what that is, it is Utah’s accumulative air pollution all balled up in cloud form (also known as inversion). Utah’s pollution, especially in the Salt Lake valley, can at times be comparable to some of the most polluted cities in the world. The air quality can get so poor at times it can lead to severe health conditions.

The reason Utah’s air pollution is so dangerous is because of our mountains and our proximity to states that are prone to wildfires. Although our mountains are a great protector from tornadoes, they are a great danger when it comes to smoke and overall air quality.  The mountains that surround Utah are like gates, allowing air pollutants from the surrounding states to get in, but make it tough for them to get out, causing that smokey fog that covers the sky. Even though the fires around and within Utah are a great contributor they are not the only factor of the crisis, we also directly contribute to it as well with the pollutants we create here via gas from cars and our wildfires.  

What is the effect of the poor air quality, and why is it important to inform yourself about it? According to a study done by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Utah’s air quality is so unhealthy, it causes on average 450 premature deaths a year. The same study also provides evidence that around 75% of Utahns lose up to a year of their lifespan and 23% lose up to five years from the pollution in the air. Poor air quality has been proven to increase heart attacks, strokes, and raise blood pressure. If you have health problems related to these you should try to take more precautions or move to an area with cleaner air.

After finding out the causes and effects of Utah’s air pollution, you may be wondering what actions you can take to help minimize pollution, as well as how to protect yourself from it. While more action is needed on a higher level to fix the problem, there are always ways to help on an individual level. A good way to start is by reducing the harmful gases and particles that our cars emit. This can be done by turning your car off instead of letting it run idly, like when you’re waiting at a stoplight or in a drive-through line waiting for your food at a fast food place, it’s also good to make sure your car is in good condition because it will produce fewer greenhouse gasses. Avoiding excessive car use is also helpful. Public transportation is a good alternative because it lessens the number of harmful fossil fuels that are burned.

 There are many other options to prevent air pollution. These include things such as having fewer campfires or grill-outs seeing how they both create and disperse harmful gases or particles that contribute to pollution but also climate change as a whole. Putting a filter on your chimney, turning off the lights in your house when they are not in use, and recycling more in order to prevent unnecessary waste. When the air quality is especially poor, stay indoors and keep your windows closed. Making sure your windows are closed lessens your exposure to bad air, as long as you have good filters in your air ducts. If you don’t have good filters, you can also use an air purifier. It may not be as effective, but a purifier is a much cheaper alternative especially if you can’t afford or install filters in your house. 

If you have no choice but to go outside, especially on bad days, you can still wear a N95 mask which is just about the same as wearing the masks that have become commonplace due to the covid pandemic . 

Though it is impossible to live a pollutant free life, there are steps to be taken. Being informed about what causes pollution is the first step to minimizing your carbon footprint. While it is possible to make a difference it is also essential to protect yourself from the deadly effects of Utah’s Air pollution.

 

 

You can also use the below sources to inform yourself on the current air quality, and other ways to protect your health

https://air.utah.gov/

https://health.utah.gov/utahair/#gsc.tab=0

https://www.iqair.com/us/usa/utah/salt-lake-city

https://www.move.org/most-dangerous-states-wildfires/\

https://westernresourceadvocates.org/utah-air-pollution/

You can also go to a few of the sites I have listed below to either help fund the planting of more trees or to go and volunteer to do it yourself.

Volunteering to help plant trees 

https://www.treeutah.org/