EPA Air Quality Standards are Not Adequate

Meeting EPA standard is not enough and does not mean we have clean air, or that our health is being adequately protected. The EPA says Salt Lake City and Provo have finally met their air quality standard – and we disagree.

Wasatch Front air quality has long violated EPA standards, and any improvement in air quality on the Wasatch Front is welcome news. But the Utah public should be concerned about EPA declaring that Wasatch Front air quality meets their standards.  In fact, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) warn that for the EPA to reclassify Salt Lake City, and Provo as “attainment” for the 24 hr. PM2.5 standard (primarily winter inversion pollution) sends the wrong message. 

“That bureaucratic change is likely to hamper, or even reverse efforts and public policies needed to further reduce our air pollution.  The EPA should look at the larger picture.  The Wasatch Front needs a greater commitment to air quality improvement, not less, said Jonny Vasic, UPHE Executive Director.  
Points of concern:

  • Other types of pollution have increased, and will continue to do so.  Summer and fall particulate pollution is on the rise because of increasing wildfires.  Ozone levels are steadily rising for several reasons, among them hotter atmospheric temperatures from global warming.
  • EPA’s standard is badly out of date and has not been updated since 2006.  The medical research since then has been overwhelming that this 24 hr. standard should have been tightened long ago.
  • Projects like the inland port are being planned that will significantly make our air pollution worse. 
  •  Several studies have shown that air pollution increases the spread of COVID and makes it more deadly.
  • Even at low levels, air pollution can have negative health impacts.

You can submit comments in opposition to this change at this link: www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/11/06/2020-24444/approval-and-promulgation-of-implementation-plans-state-of-utah-salt-lake-city-and-provo-utah-pm25

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