Utah County ranks ninth place in polluted air quality

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    By Jenny Boshard

    The American Lung Association recently ranked the Provo-Orem area”s air quality ninth-worst in the nation because of its winter inversions.

    The Utah Department of Environmental Quality, which defends the air quality in the area, suggests the ranking is misleading because the measurements used are different than the Environmental Protection Agency standards they adhere to.

    Donna Spangler, public information officer for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, said Utah meets all the EPA standards for air quality.

    The ALA is raising awareness in Utah about air pollution.

    Hailey Watanabe, program specialist for American Lung Association, explained the ranking and noted Utah County received a “C” grade for air quality.

    “The problem with Utah and the grade that we received is that we have good and bad days,” Watanabe said. “Air quality is getting better. Our bad days just tend to be worse because of the inversions that we get.”

    Inversions are an annual occurrence during the winter months in Utah.

    “An inversion is where warmer air sits above colder air and pushes pollution down into the valley, holding the gunk and it doesn”t clear out,” said Lance Madigan, public information officer for Utah County Health. “Winter is our primary issue. We are most concerned with the winter months.”

    Spangler said the measurements the ALA used are different from the EPA standards, but there are things that Utah can do better to create clean air.

    “Be very cautious on how you interpret and use the American Lung Association data,” Spangler said. “Certainly improvements could be made.”

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