Utah Air Quality Continues To Impact Residents' Health

Apr 21, 2020

Smog hanging over the Wasatch front
Credit Standard Examiner

The American Lung Association recently released their annual State of the Air report.

Will Barrett is the Director of Clean Air advocacy for the American Lung Association.

“Nearly half of Americans live in counties that have unhealthy ozone or particle pollution.  Unfortunately that includes about two and a half million people in the Salt Lake City region," Barrett said.

Through their annual State of the Air report, his organization found that air quality in the state is poor relative to other areas of the country. This may come as no surprise to many Utah residents.

What residents may not have expected is the air quality problem isn’t just on the Wasatch Front. 

“We also know in the report that there are some of the more rural counties even, in Utah, that have high levels of unhealthy air. So we know that the issues of air pollution are not just concentrated in urban areas," Barrett said.

The impacts of poor air quality on health are broad.  A 2018 report from the University of Utah indicated that women living in highly polluted parts of Utah are more likely to have miscarriages.

“We know that there’s a widespread range of negative health outcomes associated with unhealthy air and high levels of pollution, whether that’s increasing asthma attacks or other negative outcomes," Barrett said.

 

However, the situation isn’t totally hopeless.

“We certainly see the benefits of the federal Clean Air Act bringing down harmful levels of pollution over time.  We need to continue focusing on programs to reduce pollution from our transportation sector, oil and gas, as well as power plants.  And also, supporting everyone to do what they can on a personal level, whether that’s car-pooling, considering electric vehicles, or supporting local efforts to boost renewable energy sources," Barrett said.