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Air quality remains a concern, but getting better

Smog covers Salt Lake City as an inversion lingers. (Qiling Wang, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Poor air quality continues to be a concern in the Salt Lake Valley, but experts say that significant improvements have been made.

While things are far from perfect this week, it could be a lot worse.

In fact, it has been in the past.

That’s the message from Jared Mendenhall, with the state Department of Environmental Quality.

“Air quality is getting quite a bit better here in Utah,” he said.

According to Mendenhall, you only have to look back a few decades to find stretches of much worse air quality in the Salt Lake Valley.

“These aren’t the prolonged inversions we used to see in the early ’80s,” he said.

There are a number of things that have contributed to the positive changes.

Officials say first, and perhaps most importantly, awareness has never been higher.

Additionally, people are increasingly gravitating towards renewable resources.

“With everybody pulling in that same direction and taking our air quality seriously,” Mendenhall said,  “we have started to make some important strides and we’re starting to see the area isn’t the way it was in the ’80s.”

And all of these behavioral changes seem to be here to stay.

Officials are optimistic things will continue to improve as people get more comfortable with non-traditional modes of transportation.

“Whether that’s carpooling or using some of those travel-light strategies where you consolidate trips and try and start that car as little as possible,” explains Mendenhall.

However, even with those suggestions in mind, the inversions aren’t going away anytime soon.

Due to the area’s geographical landscape, Mendenhall says air quality will never be ideal, but there’s always more to be done in order to limit the problem.