Moms want more air testing | ParkRecord.com

Moms want more air testing

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Despite a couple upticks in particulates during the busiest days of the season, air in Park City was pretty clean even the smoggiest days last winter, state Division of Air Quality officials say.

The amount of some particulate matter in western Summit County did not reach 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air, which is the Environmental Protection Agency standard.

What people breathe in Park City and the Snyderville Basin was monitored for PM 2.5 for the first time between December and March.

Data compiled by the Summit County Health Department showed an increase in pollutants near the end of December during the Christmas holiday when the amount of microscopic soot and dust in the air rose to around 33 micrograms, Utah Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Donna Spangler said, adding that another day the pollution jumped to 30 micrograms.

The level of PM 2.5 spiked again during the Sundance Film Festival in January.

"There were only two days and both of the days were below the standard," said Donna Spangler, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. "It really showed that there isn’t as much of a problem as there is elsewhere in the state."

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Officials in Summit County recently returned air monitors they borrowed from the state and set up near McPolin Elementary School and Old Ranch Road.

"If Summit County wants to go ahead and continue the testing, then they would have to pursue it," Spangler said. "From the [Department of Air Quality’s] standpoint, we need to put the resources where we can best handle the problem, because there are areas in the state that are two to three times worse than that."

Grading for particulate matter, nearby Salt and Utah counties received an ‘F’ from the American Lung Association, which indicates that pollution may creep into Summit County through Parleys Canyons, said Mary Jacquin, a co-chairwoman for the group Utah Moms for Clean Air.

With that in mind, county officials are "very keen on going forward with testing," Jacquin said in a telephone interview Friday.

"They need three years of data," she said. "There hasn’t been a year’s worth of testing."

Moms for Clean Air has cooperated with health officials to help ensure the tests continue, she said.

"They recognize that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and they seem to be on the same page as we are," Jacquin added.

Officials must test in the summer to determine air quality, she said.

Without help from the state, however, Summit County may have to buy expensive monitoring equipment, according to Steve Jenkins, director of the Summit County Health Department.

Along with PM 2.5, which becomes lodged in the lungs and could cause health problems, Jacquin said she hopes officials also test for other pollutants that could include nitrogen, carbon monoxide, sulfur monoxide, ground-level ozone and lead.

"There seems to be some indication from the county that they agree with that," she said.

But stopping cars from idling is easiest way for people to reduce air pollution, Jacquin said.

"Just turn off your car," she said. "When you’re sitting, turn off your engine."

Summit County was one of 10 counties in Utah officials said could fail tighter air-quality tests the federal government began in 2006.

"Our air pollution problem is a statewide problem and we need to look at where are the worst areas," Spangler said. "We have to put our resources where we’re most needed."

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