With wildfires raging across the west and wintertime inversions continuing to be a common event in Utah, worsening air quality in Salt Lake City remains a prominent topic for students and staff at Salt Lake Community College.
From accepting it as a part of everyday life, to concerns about health, students are affected by the changing air quality in more ways than one.
According to a study published by Brigham Young University in January 2020, air pollution shortens the life of the average Utahn by two years and costs Utah’s economy $1.8 billion annually.
IQAir, a Swiss air quality company, ranked Salt Lake City to have the worst air quality and pollution out of all major cities several times this summer, highlighting how severe the issue has become.
The Globe asked students and staff:
The Salt Lake area had the worst air in the world for a stretch this summer, thanks to regional wildfires and the valley’s inversions. Does this concern you?
“Yes and no. I have asthma and that affected me in more ways than one. It makes it harder for me and others [like me] to breathe, or do anything outside.” – Justin Ahleen, Disability Resource Center lab specialist
“I don’t really care about it – it’s just part of the day … The only thing I am surprised about is that [Utahns] blame it on other states instead of taking [any] blame [themselves].” – Mike Sibanda, general studies major
“Yes, it does concern me. I have asthma, but not only that, I have a son with chronic lung disease. I’m concerned about him playing outside or breathing the air any time we have poor air quality.” – Lindsay Simons, health science major and SLCC Student Association president
“Yes, it does concern me. I like to run outside, [and] It was really tough, even with a mask on … I even walked two blocks, and I was coughing the whole time. It was bad.” – Jennifer Nguyen, general studies major
“The earth is changing. It has always been changing, for millions of years, but the way we’re adding to the air quality and carbon dioxide, we’re not going to be okay. But the earth will be okay because it’s just going to continue on, but we’re not. So, I think it is a little concerning.” – Jay Trevizo, illustration major