Utah air quality is continuing to get worse, says USU professor

Feb 4, 2023, 9:58 PM | Updated: Feb 9, 2023, 1:50 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Unhealthy air is still affecting Utah and its residents, and the recent snow storms and other factors are not helping much.

According to Randy Martin, a Utah State University professor, there are several reasons why the air quality was terrible on Saturday.

“For the last several years, we’ve been fortunate that we’ve had relatively mild winters,” Martin explained while checking a reading station in the Salt Lake Valley.

He said while we all need the snow for the water it brings, its thick layers on the ground add to our air problems.

“It tightens our inversions. It makes the inversions much more likely to happen. Makes them stronger. Makes them longer-lasting. And so, we end up building more and more of the pollutants within those inversions,” Martin said.

Add the high pressure, leading to a buildup of immersion in the valleys.

“And then on top of that… the sun really pushes that photochemistry along that forms our pm2.5 here in northern Utah,” Martin explained.

Randy Martin working on a reading station in West Valley City. (KSL-TV's Mike Anderson) Randy Martin working on a reading station in West Valley City. (KSL-TV's Mike Anderson) Inversion in Salt Lake City on Saturday. (KSL-TV's Mike Anderson) Inversion in Salt Lake City on Saturday. (KSL-TV's Mike Anderson) Ozone and PM map of the US on Saturday. (AirNow)

But Martin blames more than what we’re dealing with thanks to the weather. We all share some responsibility.

“This is something that we’ve been wearily waiting to happen really and truly, you know. We know we’re making progress in our controls, but we also know that the population in northern Utah is growing. And when you get these stagnant conditions, this is what we can expect to see,” he expressed.

With more people and cars on the road, it’s not hard to see why conditions were ready for all that gunk to get trapped in the valleys.

“We are probably going to have to be asked to do more in the future, both with the pm2.5 and with summer ozone,” Martin said.

Because of that, Martin believes that Utah could find itself pushing the regulatory guidelines again if we don’t take action.

“I’m still optimistic that we’re heading in the right direction, but we’re going to have to do more, and all of us have to contribute to that,” he said.

On Friday, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website listed Utah as having the worst air in the state.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Utah's Air Quality

A layer of inversion keeps the skies grey over Salt Lake City on Thursday, Jan. 26. A small system ...
Jen Christensen

‘Equal opportunity to be healthy’: Stricter air pollution standards would benefit some populations more than others, study says

Everyone benefits when there is less air pollution, but it pays off more for older communities with high poverty rates and those where larger populations of Black people live, regardless of income, a new study finds.
5 days ago
Exibit shows Utah's air was a concern as far back as the 1880s....
Jed Boal

Exhibit: Concerns about Utah’s air quality go back to Brigham Young

An online exhibit details Utah’s unique air pollution problem going back to the 1880s when Utahns referred to the winter pollution as “smoke evil” or the “smoke nuisance”. 
7 days ago
Chess and air pollution...
Katija Stjepovic

Can air quality impact the decisions a chess player makes?

The game of chess is based on strategic decision-making.
15 days ago
Great Salt Lake shoreline...
Kevin Eubank

Saving the Great Salt Lake is not going to be a quick fix

Getting the Great Salt Lake back to a comfortable water level is going to take a lot of precipitation and work.
1 month ago
The US Magnesium Rowley Plant in Tooele County is pictured on June 18, 2021. A recent study found t...
Carter Williams

Bill to study halogen emissions, inspired by poor air quality report, clears first legislative hurdle

A bill that sets up a study of halogen emissions, such as bromine and chlorine, cleared its first legislative test Wednesday.
1 month ago
Chopper 5 shows the U.S. Magnesium refinery in Tooele Co....
Mike Anderson

USU researchers search for source of Wasatch Front air pollution

Researchers are taking a close look at some major contributors to our air pollution, and how to combat the problem better.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Stack of old laptops with dark background...
PC Laptops

Old Laptop Upgrades You Need to Try Before Throwing it Away

Get the most out of your investment. Try these old laptop upgrades before throwing it out to keep it running fast and efficient.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
Utah air quality is continuing to get worse, says USU professor