Air pollution top priority for legislators
Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 00:02
More than 4,000 people rallied for government intervention against air pollution on Jan. 25 in the largest air quality demonstration in the state, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Jordy Guth, a member of the USU Sustainability Council, was encouraged to see the rally and the awareness people have about air quality.
“Everybody who sees that there’s a problem and starts to become informed about the problem really does need to step up and have a voice about it,” Guth said.
Guth is impressed with the way the governor is responding and stepping up. She believes the government is listening to what voters are saying.
“Now there’s a lot of legislation that’s happening, because people are making it known that they care and expect the government to respond and change,” Guth said.
Two days after the rally, the general session of the Utah Legislature opened with more than 15 bills concerning air quality, and according to Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan, it’s likely more bills will be proposed as the session goes on.
Redd works as a physician for the Bear River Health Department and was elected in 2012 to the Utah House of Representatives. Last spring, he and other representatives helped create the Clean Air Caucus, which aims to educate legislators about the problem. The caucus met monthly to hear from experts about the weather and chemistry behind air quality and the health effects it has.
According to Redd, most of the problems come from PM 2.5, which is particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers. The bad air in Utah not only increases risk of respiratory problems like asthma and pneumonia, but it can also trigger cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and clots, he said.
“There are some days when it really is pretty unhealthy,” Redd said. “However, year round the air is pretty reasonable.”
According to Josh Greer, who works for Bear River Health in the Environmental Health Science Division, there are two federal standards placed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Utah meets the yearly standard, but it’s during winter when Utah fails to meet the 24-hour standard due to inversion.
“We will continue to work on additional strategies that can be implemented on a state level to improve air quality in Utah,” Redd said.