Last month, air quality in the Salt Lake Valley was at a three year low with the Utah Division of Air Quality reporting numbers as high as 70 micrograms of particles per cubic meter. For reference, the Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable level is a mere 35 micrograms per cubic meter. With that said, many locals in Utah are expanding their efforts to change regulations that would start to impact the air quality in a positive way. For those who don't know, the recent worsening of the air quality was due to prolonged temperature inversion, something that has become unfortunately frequent over the past few years. It occurs when the warmer air is moved over Utah's valleys by the inversion, and the warm air acts like a lid, holding the cold air and pollution beneath it.
Fortunately, we have since seen a few storms move in and out of the valleys, each pushing the lids away, which has allowed much of the pollution to escape. More frequent storms would definitely help with air quality; however, since we cannot predict or control the weather, we have to take more responsibility ourselves to keep our communities safe from the dangers of poor air quality. Health effects range from short-term illness to long-term problems; and, in some cases can even lead to death. Those with heart or respiratory conditions, as well as infants, pregnant women, and the elderly, are at greater risk, and it's recommended that those people monitor the Air Quality Index as part of their regular routines.
As a means of pushing for more environmentally friendly initiatives, three groups are advocating for clean air in Utah. The three groups: Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Western Resource Advocates and HEAL Utah, have submitted three petitions to the Air Quality Board. The first petition called for the state to impose 24-hour emissions limits. The second would require facilities that want to increase their emissions to do only if they were to reduce their emissions by at least an equal amount in another facet of their operations. Lastly, the third simply asks the state to increase how often they monitors air quality. All of the petitions seem perfectly reasonable; and, although the state has since denied a public review of the petitions, state regulators did say that they may use the suggested concepts when they begin working on a new implementation plan this summer.
In the meantime, the public has been asked to start thinking locally by carpooling or riding bicycles to work, and conserving energy at home. There are dozens of things we can do to help the effort, including the implementation of environmentally friendly appliances. This can range from a home purchasing an energy-efficient refrigerator to a construction company outfitting their fleet with automated lubrication systems. There is an increasing number of programs being setup to subsidize these costs for the sake of keeping our environment safe. Here at MRES, we aren't very knowledgable regarding refrigerators, but we do know everything there is to know about the positive environmental impacts that can result from automating lubrication for heavy machinery. Contact one of our specialists to learn more.