The poor air quality in Utah has been a hot topic for many residents and legislators.
Particulate matter and sulfur dioxide are two types of air pollutants, each causing a number of health and environmental issues. The weather inversions created by Utah geography increase the intensity of pollution during cold weather months.
Particulate matter, or particle pollution, is one of the major reasons behind the bad air. Tiny dust and soot particles released into the air from construction projects and fuel burning can blend together into potentially hazardous compounds.
In addition to the effect on local populations, particulate matter can also impact the environment.
Another source of air pollution can be traced to sulfur dioxide. The gas, which is emitted from the burning of fossil fuels from industrial facilities, is also considered a secondary particle in PM 2.5, the fine type of particulate matter.
Exposure to these pollutants can cause a variety of symptoms, which are more serious for people with heart or lung conditions. As a result, many Utahns have to limit the amount of time they spend outside and avoid strenuous activities.
In order to reduce the output of sulfur dioxide, factories need to change the fuel they burn and treat the gases before they are released into the atmosphere.
Vehicles also contribute to the mixture of particulate matter during an inversion. Citizens are encouraged to drive less, when possible, and to avoid idling to reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide emissions.
The Utah State Legislature is considering a bill that will encourage Utah drivers to consider buying cars with higher smog ratings. Other proposals include amendments to emissions testing and clean fuel school buses.
For a few weeks of the year, air pollution draws the attention of everyone living and working along the Wasatch Front. Finding ways to reduce these air pollutants can lead to healthier people and a healthier environment.