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Solutions sought for Utah’s air quality issues

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Posted at 9:36 PM, Jan 01, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-01 23:36:52-05

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s air quality has been unhealthy lately, and physicians and lawmakers are looking for solutions to the situation.

Doctor Brian Moench of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment said the air quality is a real danger.

“Air pollution affects virtually every organ system in the body and has the potential to either cause or aggravate virtually every disease that we know is related to smoking cigarettes,” he said.

So far solutions such as reducing driving and wood burning have been put forward, but others say more needs to be done. Erin Mendenhall is the executive director of Breathe Utah and is a Salt Lake City Council member-elect, and she is advocating for a more comprehensive mass transit system.

"We need to have a multi-modal transportation system, where you have more than one option from getting from A to B,” she said. “Get buses going east and west where they currently aren’t, so that we can connect from our house to that rail system if needs be, or get downtown without two or three transfers.”

Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-District 25, said the next legislative session will see air quality bills.

"I’m running a bill which will allow the citizens to vote to make a small increase in their sales tax to make more bus service available,” Briscoe said.

Briscoe said solutions will take time and must involve cooperation.

“This is complex,” he said. “It’s not going to be fixed easily in one year. It’s going to take a lot of concerted action on the part of a lot of people. On private industry, state government, private citizens: we all have to do our part.”

Briscoe, Mendenhall and Moench sat down in the FOX 13 News studio Wednesday for a panel discussion on Utah’s air quality, click here for the video.