OUR VIEW: The air may clear, but effects linger
An Editorial Opinion
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 14:03
For a few weeks every January, the air quality in Cache Valley plummets. For those weeks, complaints clog social network feeds and it seems nearly everyone is a clean-air crusader. As soon as the air clears, however, and we start seeing a few clear days, the problem seems to disappear in the minds of many.
But does it disappear in our lungs? Particulate air pollution can cause long-term problems despite short-term exposure. According to a presentation by C. Arden Pope at the USU Air Quality Symposium in 2005, significant increases in deaths due to respiratory and cardiovascular causes have been observed in areas with elevated particulate matter in the atmosphere. Pollution can also reduce lung function and development in children.
The long debate over vehicle emissions testing in Cache County seems to be winding down — the Cache County Council recently approved an emissions testing plan. While proponents of testing see it as a step in the right direction — limiting what pollution we have direct control over — others argue that the worst-offending vehicles are aging off the roadway as they become too costly for their owners to maintain. Regardless of the council’s intentions, we’re still likely to see significant winter smog and dangerous air pollution for years — probably decades — to come. But the problem can’t be limited to the few extremely smoggy days we see a year. Either it’s a problem to consider year-round — when you’re buying a new car or truck, when you consider biking on your commute in the summer — or it’s a danger you can live with indefinitely.