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Utah particle pollution improves, ozone worsens in lung report

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The American Lung Association says Utah’s ozone pollution is getting worse, even though other pollution is getting better.

The 2018 report found year-round particle pollution levels slightly lower than the 2017 report.

Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices.

But compared to the 2017 State of the Air report, Salt Lake City experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report.

Denni Cawley with Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment says it’s a concern in Utah, which is vulnerable to ozone in the atmosphere.

“We can see now, with the research coming out, that even levels below federal standards can cause serious illnesses,” she said.

“We need to convince people that it is not a liberal ruse, that ozone is dangerous to vulnerable populations like children and older people,” said Michael Siler, American Lung Association Southwest region board member.

“We could all take individual responsibility to just turn our cars off when we are waiting for somebody. Or there are standards for when you should cut your lawn, and those kinds of things. Those little things can make a significant difference,” said Siler.

But Utah Air Quality officials point out that Utah’s air is cleaner now than at any time since monitoring began in the 1950s, and improving.

They say the state is taking many steps, like more mass transit development, and bringing in cleaner Tier 3 fuels. Large industry in Utah has reduced emissions by 47% since 1995.

From 2002 to 2014, Utah’s population increased by 600,000 (26%). During that time, total statewide emissions declined by 30%–a 46% reduction in per-capita emissions.

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