April 30 editorial
Using a pair of borrowed air-quality monitors, Summit County residents learned something this winter they may wish they hadn’t. Those bluebird days last December and January may not have been as healthy as they looked.
According to data collected from a monitor placed near McPolin Elementary School, air pollution in Park City spiked in December and again in January. Those increases didn’t necessarily trigger any red flags at the Environmental Protection Agency, but they are worrisome, especially to members of the newly formed Park City Chapter of Utah Moms for Clean Air.
These women are particularly disappointed that Summit County officials seem reluctant to invest their money in continued monitoring saying, the state’s equipment was only in place for a few months and may not tell the full story of whether Park City’s air quality is in jeopardy. They are asking the county and the state, at the very least, to conduct more regular testing.
The group’s concerns are well founded. While county health-department officials may believe there are more urgent uses for their budget, air quality affects every single resident and, as last winter’s tests show, there is concrete evidence that car emissions, wood smoke and other factors are already compromising the air in Park City.
Leaders have been trying to warn citizens around the globe that climate change is real and accelerating beyond all initial projections. Parkites, in particular, have taken that message to heart and have begun buying wind power and driving cars with higher gas mileage and lower emissions.
Only part of that effort is altruistic. Summit County residents also have more selfish reasons to be concerned about the environment. Studies show that air pollution contributes to global warming which, in turn, could have a disastrous effect on the ski industry.
Whether Summit County and Park City officials listen to their moms or their pocketbooks, there are lots of reasons to invest in permanent air-monitoring stations throughout the community.
Anita Lewis, Brent Ovard and Travis English were influential in shaping how residents interact with the county.