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Elementary students join air quality managers in push to clean Utah’s air

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SALT LAKE CITY – Students from the Madeleine Choir School shared an important message for grownups Tuesday – everyone has a part to play when it comes to improving air quality.

“I love going outside. My family we do a lot of hiking almost every weekend,” said Cleo Shaw, a student from Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City.

Shaw said exploring the outdoors in Utah can come at a cost.

“Did you know that being outside in a Red air day is like smoking a pack of cigarettes?”

The sixth grader and her classmates have teamed up with the Utah Clean Air Partnership and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. They created posted to drive home the point that clean air is everyone’s responsibility.

“We’re trying to save the air in Utah,” Shaw said.

The American Lung Association has ranked Utah’s air quality as the sixth worst in the nation. Air pollution hurts the more than 250,000 Utahns who have asthma as well as those who suffer from heart disease and diabetes.

“Here in the Salt Lake Valley, we drive about 30 million miles a day and if we can make small choices, that can really make a big difference,” said Bryce Bird, Air Quality Director with the Department of Environmental Quality.

Carpooling or teleworking could limit our time on the road. Students have some suggestions of their own.

“Some people will bike to school. We have an idle-free zone in our school. We also have an air monitor, which tells us what the air quality is,” Shaw said.

“If we could get early action from the kids, they are very able to grasp the concept that what we do impacts the environment, they can then influence us as adults to make good choices,” Bird said.

Bird applauds the efforts from lawmakers to push for cleaner technology and believes more is needed.

“The past legislative session there were initiatives that looked at how to incentivize cleaner technology. Cleaner vehicles, of course electricity and things like that. Rooftop solar things like that also help,” he said.

Students will also be participating at a rally at the Capitol on Jan. 26. They invite all students to join them in getting lawmakers attention.