Time to monitor air quality
Washington, D.C., is just getting around to acknowledging that global warming is a real problem, but Utah residents have experienced it for more than a decade. Salt Lake City’s annual winter inversion is a perfect example of what scientists have been trying to tell politicians for years that emissions from cars, power plants, factories and even residential woodstoves are triggering unwelcome changes in our climate
Drive out of Park City on a bluebird afternoon and watch the air darken into a yellowish gray murk as the interstate enters the Salt Lake Valley. Feel the chill and the burning sensation in your eyes and then hurry back up into the mountains where the air, gratefully, is still clear.
In Salt Lake unlike the White House — there is no debate about where the pollution is coming from. Residents have come to rely on a well publicized air quality alert system that indicates when it is safe to exercise outdoors and when they are being asked not to use wood-burning stoves.
For Park City and Summit County, Salt Lake’s inversion is a glaring warning that steps should be taken early to avoid creating our own version of inversion. Though the Salt Lake Valley’s topography intensifies the concentration of air pollutants, the valleys of Summit County could lead to the same effect. On some afternoons when a high pressure system is in place, it is already possible to see a faint cast of pollution along Park Avenue.
Currently the state does not maintain an air quality monitoring station in Summit County but local officials have begun talks with the Division of Air Quality about installing at least one. We would encourage the county to move that process along as quickly as possible in order to establish some air quality baselines. Then citizens will be able to detect when and if their air is compromised.
Though, the state would operate the monitoring system, it will require a county investment of $20,000.
One look at the Salt Lake Valley on a smoggy afternoon, however, should be enough to convince local citizens that it would be a worthy investment.
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“History buffs will tell you that Park City suffered many devastating fires fanned by canyon winds,” writes Andrea Barros. “It could happen again if we do not reduce wildfire fuel.”