02 May 2008

Air pollution

According to the American Lung Association, Logan is ranked #6 on their list of worst air pollution cities in the U.S. for 2007. Okay, so this is just for short-term particle pollution, meaning our air doesn't suck year-round. But in the winter when we have inversions, it's bad enough and often enough to earn us a ranking among cities like L.A., Sacramento and Washington D.C. That's bad. Really bad. Here's the list of the top 10 worst cities for short-term particle pollution:
#1 Pittsburgh, PA
#2 Los Angeles, CA
#3 Fresno, CA
#4 Bakersfield, CA
#5 Birmingham, AL
#6 Logan, UT
#7 Salt Lake City, UT
#8 Sacramento, CA
#9 Detroit, MI
#10 D.C./Baltimore, MD
(Provo, UT is ranked #12)
Here's a little bit of info on particle pollution from the ALA's website:
  • Particle pollution is the most dangerous of the widespread outdoor air pollutants. It is typically made up of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols. Particle levels can spike dangerously for hours to weeks on end (short-term) or reach high levels for most of the year (year-round).
  • Breathing particle pollution can kill. Breathing particle pollution year-round can shorten life by one to three years. It triggers heart attacks, strokes, irregular heartbeats, and causes lung cancer and premature births. Particle pollution harms people in many ways, even when the particle levels are very low. Particle pollution worsens serious respiratory disorders, including asthma and causes wheezing and coughing.
  • In the eastern U.S., many particles come from power plants that burn coal to produce electricity. In the western U.S., particles come from diesel buses, trucks and heavy equipment, agriculture and wood burning.
  • The body’s natural defenses help to cough or sneeze larger particles out of our bodies. But smaller particles can be so tiny that they can become lodged deep in the lungs and cause major damage, or pass from the lungs into the blood stream and then throughout the rest of the body.
That's scary stuff!

The ALA also assigned a grade to the counties of Utah for our short-term particle pollution. Care to guess what Cache County got? Yep, we failed. Though if it makes us feel any better, most of the other counties in Utah that were evaluated failed as well.

Now for the resources: Check here for the air quality forecast. Want to help make a difference in our air? Utah Moms for Clean Air are an active group trying to make political and community changes to improve our air quality. Or check out the Choose Clean Air website from the UT DEQ for ideas on minimizing your contribution to the air quality problem.

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