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Utah DEQ: Data shows air quality improving along Wasatch Front

Posted at 10:16 PM, Jun 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 00:22:50-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing that Salt Lake City and Provo have attained the Clean Air Act standard for wintertime pollution, PM2.5, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

The data used was from the past three years.

“This means that for the last three years, monitored levels of fine particulate averaged below the standard. Good work Utah! Before the EPA can reclassify the Wasatch Front to attainment, the proposal will undergo a 30-day public comment period and EPA must accept Utah's PM2.5 maintenance plans,” a Facebook post from the department reads.

This is good news, Utah Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Jared Mendenhall said.

“The residents of Utah are taking air quality seriously. What we are seeing is the governor and the legislature taking air quality seriously,” he said.

While this is a step in the right direction, Dr. Brian Moench, the President Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, said there is no such thing as air quality that is clean enough.

“My reaction is that we have a lot more work to do. There has been an increasing disconnect between what the medical research would suggest we need to do and what the federal standards allow,” he said.

The research from the medical community shows there have not been nearly enough steps to clean up the air, Dr. Moench said.

“We are learning that the air pollution impacts on a person’s health are almost identical to those of smoking cigarettes,” he said.

There are steps people can take to help with pollution, including how often they drive their car and how they heat and cool their homes, Dr. Moench said.

There will be a 30-day period for public comment and Utah has to submit a maintenance plan, Mendenhall said.

“We are submitting a maintenance plan to EPA, and that maintenance plan will show how Utah is going to, what steps Utah is going to take to continue to meet that standard," he said.