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Health department officials to ask police for help enforcing emission standards

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PROVO, Utah – The Utah County Health Department is asking police for help in cracking down on vehicles that contribute more than their share of air pollution.

Utah Division of Environmental Quality officials said cars are the number one source of air pollution, and health department officials said some cars are more to blame than others.

The Utah County Health Department will be sending letters to police chiefs in the area that include tip on targeting cars that create excessive exhaust.

Lance Madigan, Utah County Health Department public information officer, said air pollution comes from many places.

“There's no single silver bullet that's going to solve our air quality issues,” he said.

Madigan said emissions tests are already required in Utah County, but he said that’s no guarantee of a car’s cleanliness.

“The thing is, you only go in once a year, so you can literally be spewing extra exhaust, extra stuff for 11 months,” he said.

Lt. Matt Siufanua of the Provo Police Department said there are already laws on the books regarding excessive exhaust.

"According to the code, there can't be any visible smoke coming out an exhaust,” he said.

Siufanua said cars that emit visible exhaust aren’t always up to date on their registration.

“Typically you'll find a car that's not been registered because they know they have excessive smoke coming out of their exhaust, and it's gonna cost them probably some money to fix it,” he said.

Terry Larsen of Larsen’s Auto Repair said it isn’t always expensive to correct excessive exhaust issues.

“A lot of times it just has to do with basic maintenance that needs to be done on the car,” Larsen said. “A lot of times it's just a tune-up issue, spark plugs, maybe wires.”

Health department officials said they are still deciding exactly what they will ask of the officers.

“All we're doing is asking for their help,” Madigan said. “It's not like we can mandate and require them to do something.”

Siufanua said they will carefully consider any recommendations they receive from the department.

“As far as I'm concerned it is a quality of life issue,” he said.

Health department officials said it could be several more weeks before their official letters requesting help are sent. In the meantime, they encourage people to visit  Utah County’s website—which has a link for people to provide the license plate numbers of cars they suspect of polluting the air. Those car owners will receive a letter in the mail, which will ask them to look into any possible problems with their vehicle.