Salt Lake Receives Failing Air Quality Grade

May 1, 2015

Salt Lake City's track record remains unbroken when it comes to getting a failing grade for air quality in the American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air" report. Christian Stumpf with the American Lung Association says the report, released this week, also ranks Salt Lake and Logan as the seventh and eighth most polluted cities for short-term particle pollution.

"So short-term particle pollution is a spike in PM 2.5 for a day, or a week, where it will get to unhealthy levels," Stumpf said.

While motor vehicles, wood-burning stoves and industry are historically the main causes of air pollution, Stumpf says research shows that climate change, or the warming of the planet, is hurting the air in Utah and other western states. He says the lingering drought means there is less rain to wash away air pollutants, and more severe wildfires also add particles to the air.

According to the report, 44 percent of Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution. Stumpf says in Salt Lake County alone there are about 90 thousand people with asthma who could suffer a serious health event because of poor air quality. He encourages people to work on reducing air pollution.

"Carpool, try to drive less, turn your engine off when your picking the kids up at school when you're waiting," Stumpf said. "Maybe, instead of sitting in the drive-through at a restaurant or the dry-cleaners, go inside."

The State of the Air report again ranked Los Angeles as having the worst ozone pollution in the U.S., whereas Bellingham, Washington is the cleanest city.