Utah’s most populous cities flunked a national air quality exam but fare better today than a decade ago, according to the American Lung Association, which released its report on 2012 air quality this week.
Nearly one in three Utah residents stands to have worse health due to high levels of pollution, the report found. That’s the proportion of Utah residents who are younger than 18, older than 65 or have asthma or heart disease.
Two spots in Utah are among the nation’s most polluted, the report shows. The corridor from Salt Lake County to Weber County ranks the sixth worst in the nation for come-and-go pollution. Cache Valley ranks 10th.
Nationally, things are looking up, the report says. Most U.S. communities are reducing pollution.
The nation’s air is much cleaner today than when the association began reporting air quality levels over a decade ago, said Harold Wimmer, the association’s president and CEO, in a statement. But “the work is not done” until the nation has “healthy air that is safe for all to breathe,” he said.
About two in five Americans, or about 131.8 million people, dealt with unhealthy levels of pollution sometime during the year.
Utah made some clean-air gains in 2012, the report found. St. George made the top 16 cleanest cities for particle pollution. And Logan snagged a spot on the cleanest cities list for ozone.
High ozone levels plagued Uintah County in 2012 that are linked to oil and gas development in the Uinta Basin. The county suffered nine days of “very unhealthy” ozone pollution in the basin, according to federal standards.
For those reasons, Uintah County made an “F” grade. Salt Lake County also received an “F” for ozone.
To clean up Utah air, especially in wintertime, Utah Division of Air Quality has imposed new set of rules. But Cherise Udell, founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air, told the Salt Lake Tribune that lawmakers are not responding fast enough to pollution concerns.
“We cannot do it ourselves,” she said. “It’s a collective problem that requires collective action.”