Solutions sought for Utah’s air quality issues

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SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s air quality has been unhealthy lately, and physicians and lawmakers are looking for solutions to the situation.

Doctor Brian Moench of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment said the air quality is a real danger.

“Air pollution affects virtually every organ system in the body and has the potential to either cause or aggravate virtually every disease that we know is related to smoking cigarettes,” he said.

So far solutions such as reducing driving and wood burning have been put forward, but others say more needs to be done. Erin Mendenhall is the executive director of Breathe Utah and is a Salt Lake City Council member-elect, and she is advocating for a more comprehensive mass transit system.

"We need to have a multi-modal transportation system, where you have more than one option from getting from A to B,” she said. “Get buses going east and west where they currently aren’t, so that we can connect from our house to that rail system if needs be, or get downtown without two or three transfers.”

Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-District 25, said the next legislative session will see air quality bills.

"I’m running a bill which will allow the citizens to vote to make a small increase in their sales tax to make more bus service available,” Briscoe said.

Briscoe said solutions will take time and must involve cooperation.

“This is complex,” he said. “It’s not going to be fixed easily in one year. It’s going to take a lot of concerted action on the part of a lot of people. On private industry, state government, private citizens: we all have to do our part.”

Briscoe, Mendenhall and Moench sat down in the FOX 13 News studio Wednesday for a panel discussion on Utah’s air quality, click here for the video.


  • Dave C

    The inversion problem will only get worse until we produce affordable hydrogen fuel cell technology for cars. In the meantime diverting I-15 to the west at Scipio and then linking it up with I-80 will help cut back on heavy traffic through Salt Lake and Utah counties, but that solution costs too much.

  • Christopher Beebe

    At its worst, pollution resulting from Utah’s infamous Winter inversions force even non-smokers to live the life of smokers. Until SOMETHING happens, we’re just going to have to do our part to help.

  • Brian Michael Owens

    Why do they never bring up the factories and production companies that pollute our air 100X what our cars and fireplaces do? Cars and Fireplaces are not our problem folks…. it is the factories that produce all this.

    • Kristine Wilenski

      Unfortunately, this is not an issue of refineries exclusively and there is no facts behind the claim that industry pollutes more than cars and fire burning. I fact, the opposite is true. Division of Air Quality numbers automobiles as more than half of total emissions. Point (area) sources (i.e., gas ranges and furnaces in business and homes) produce roughly 32% and industry produces just over 10%. To think bigger, industry already has agreements to limit emissions in cold months and higher in summer months, actively. Do we have the same agreement to the public? If we are to take this seriously, we need to utilize public transit, carpools, unnecessary idling such as avoiding driving during peak hours and lastly technology. Open fire is the leading worst, as this is incomplete combustion at its finest.

  • Jim Gustavsen

    Cars are only PART of the solution. The REFINERIES pumping poison into the lungs and bodies of children is a massive, glaring issue that no one is tackling because they have money. There is so much pollution swept under the rug from these refineries it is absolutely disgusting what they are doing to the quality of life for those who live nearby.

    More bus lines is good but nothing compared to the impact you can have by shutting down these refineries.

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