On a day when the Utah Division of Air Quality categorized Salt Lake’s air as “Unhealthy” on their Air Quality Index, demonstrators gathered outside Trolley Square on Tuesday to raise awareness of the state’s inversion problem.
As a part of what organizers are calling the “Twelve Polluted Days of Christmas,” clean air advocates wore Santa hats and elf costumes, hoping to combine holiday cheer with an issue that has plagued Utahns early and often this season.
Decked out in holiday apparel and wearing masks to protect their lungs from pollution, about a dozen protestors gather on the sidewalk along 700 East, one of the busiest streets in Salt Lake. A man dressed as Santa Claus waves to the constant stream of traffic, holding a sign that says, “Breathing clean air is the birthright of every child.”
And who better to speak for children than Santa Claus?
As a familiar winter haze settles over the state, the Utah Division of Air Quality has issued mandatory action warnings for five Utah Counties. The use of wood stoves and fireplaces is prohibited in Cache, Box Elder, Salt Lake and Davis counties, as well as Utah and Weber counties until the Department of Environmental Quality lifts the limit with the improvement of air quality.
Utah Division of Air Quality Environmental Scientist Ken Simmons said the early warnings were issued to inform the public.
You spoke and UPR listened. Tuesday on Access Utah Jennifer Pemberton will be here to present some of your questions and comments on how air pollution has affected your health. If you haven’t told us your story, phone lines will be open for you. You can also share your story with us at our online form. In the second half: after a particularly bad winter, we’ll ask: what’s next in our search for solutions?
Utah Public Radio has partnered with the Public Insight Network to report on public health effects of air pollution in Cache Valley. Listeners and other members of the community here have been telling us their experiences with air pollution through an online form. Jennifer Pemberton has been listening to these stories and has this update on public concerns:
We're standing by for your report on air quality in Cache Valley. As a partner of the Public Insight Network, Utah Public Radio is turning to you, our listeners, to report on issues that matter to you. See what we're thinking about at our Source page and chime in on any issue any time you have something to say.
On previous episodes of Access Utah, we’ve tapped into grassroots frustration directed at government for perceived lack of effective action on Air Pollution. Many of you are asking: why isn’t more being done? Wednesday on the program we’ll give you the chance to express your concerns directly to legislators and government officials. We’ll ask our guests and you: what should government do to improve Air Quality?
In the first half, we’ll talk with Sen. Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City; Rep. Ed Redd, R-Logan; and Bryce Bird, Director of the Utah Division of Air Quality.
Air quality is today's topic on the program. We'll be taking a grassroots angle on the anger and protest regarding this issue. Utah has been known for having the worst air in the nation, and many Utahns are taking matters into their own hands.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker wants the state to do more to address air quality. Currently, the Wasatch Front has some of the worst air in the country, but Becker says state law is preventing more from being done.