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Utah's air quality receives poor rating

Posted at 11:21 AM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 13:50:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's air quality doesn't make the grade according to the 2021 "State of the Air" report issued by the American Lung Association.

Salt Lake City and Duchesne County fared the worst in the report, as both had increases in the number of days ozone reached unhealthy levels. Logan saw the same number of days as in last year’s report.

“People in Utah continue to be impacted by unhealthy air, especially children, those over 65, people with COPD, lung cancer or cardiovascular disease and people of color,” said JoAnna Strother, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association. “Even otherwise healthy individuals can experience shortness of breath and coughing when air pollutants are high. More must be done to protect our public health.”

According to the report, Salt Lake City now ranks as the 8th most polluted city in the U.S., compared to 11th in last year’s report. Duchesne is now the 44th most polluted county in the country, up from 64th last year.

But there is some good news in the report for Salt Lake City;
year-round particle pollution levels improved to its best-ever ranking, improving from 65th in last year’s report to 105th this year.

Logan also saw its best ever average and improved its ranking in this category.

Also measured in the report were short-term spikes in particle pollution; particle pollution is extremely dangerous and can be lethal, so improving this measure is crucial to public health.

Salt Lake City improved over last year's 7th most polluted city using this measure to 17th this year, Logan is now moved into 7th place. And St. George earned a spot on the “cleanest cities list” for short-term particles.

In Utah and around the country, people most vulnerable to air pollution include older adults, children, and people with a lung disease. The report also found that climate change has made air quality worse. People of color were also three times more likely to live in poor air quality areas.

To learn more about the report's findings and methodology, click here.