Staying safe in Salt Lake County

Photo of dust in Parley’s Canyon from a previous windy day.

KUTV2 asked UPHE to weigh in on the health hazard of the dust storm we had earlier this week. In short, dust pollution has virtually all the same health hazards as any other source of pollution, and a few additional ones. Most of the dust, regardless of the source, is contaminated with heavy metals, and dust from quarries also contains crystalline silica which is highly toxic to the lungs and can lead to silicosis and lung cancer.

“He [Dr. Brian Moench] warns people to avoid exercising outdoors on a day like Monday. Plus, if people still have masks left over from the COVID-19 pandemic, they should wear them. Also, they should use air purifiers in their homes,” the article says. 

“A lot of the smallest dust can seep into people’s homes and they can be exposed when it lands on their surfaces, their countertops, their floors and their carpets,” Moench said.

Even short-term pollution has long-term consequences. The microscopic particles you inhale this week can invade any cell of any critical organ, like the brainheart, lungs, lining of blood vesselskidneys and placenta, and hang around for months. And some may never leave. The inflammation triggered by those particles is potent enough to cause continuous biological damage and precipitate disease. This is why it’s crucial to eliminate as many pollution sources as possible and definitely not add any new ones. The geography of the valley mandates that we add as little pollution as possible, as events like this are inevitable.

Keeping dust from blowing out of quarries is near impossible when wind levels are high. The dust from the gravel pit in North Salt Lake was almost blinding, and that’s exactly why we can’t tolerate the idea of another gravel pit/limestone quarry in Parley’s Canyon. Much of the dust blanketing the Wasatch Front was from the dried out lake bed of the Great Salt Lake, and the Rio Tinto tailings pond was also a major contributor. UPHE is fighting against Rio Tinto’s application to increase their tailings pond so that we can keep water in Great Salt Lake. 

The fight to stop another gravel pit/limestone quarry in Parley’s Canyon is in full force right now.  Join us for the Stop the Mine Rally this Thursday, information below.

Businesses should not be profiting off of polluting and endangering residents. 

Find the KUTV article here.