UTAH'S AIR QUALITY

Cache County inversions capture high levels of ammonia pollution

Dec 19, 2023, 6:50 PM | Updated: Dec 20, 2023, 5:56 am

LOGAN — Cache County often captures some of the worst air in the country. That’s due to it being surrounded closely by mountains on all sides.

However, it turns out the type of pollution that is getting trapped there is also unique.

According to Dr. Randal Martin, an associate research professor at Utah State University, the big bowl of the Cache Valley also often gets covered with high levels of ammonia-based air pollution, which is something that is often referred to as “cars and cows.”

“And actually that’s really from a lot of the agricultural production that’s here,” Martin said. “We have cows, chickens, horses, fertilizer on the ground, all of that produces ammonia.”

And while Martin says the area doesn’t have the most agriculture production in the country, the valley keeps and concentrates that pollution there in a way that isn’t seen anywhere else.

“We literally have the highest atmospheric ammonia concentration of anywhere in the country,” he said. “We call ourselves the ammonia volcano because if you look at it in 3D, we have this big peak of ammonia in it right here over Cache Valley.”

Cache County often captures some of the worst air in the country. That’s due to it being surrounded closely by mountains on all sides. (KSL TV)

On the other hand…

On the flip side, Martin points out that according to a recent study, ammonia-based pollution doesn’t do the same kind of damage that the more industrial type seen in the Salt Lake Valley is known for.

“(It’s) more of an irritant and an interference,” Martin said. “It’s just like, say the least toxic of a lot of things that particles are made up of. So but it’s still like it’s still a particle. It’s still getting down into your lung, still interfering with your oxygen exchange.”

Martin added there is no level of safe air pollution. Even on days when the winter inversion may not be as bad as it could be, he said we should all take precautions to reduce our own carbon footprint and minimize time outside, breathing the polluted air.

“Every year there’s just more and more studies that show the depth and the magnitude and the breadth of air pollution effects on ourselves, our bodies, (and) our psychology,” Martin said. “There is no doubt anymore that air pollution and the levels that we see here in northern Utah are harmful.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Utah's Air Quality

An electric UTA bus charges in Salt Lake City, Utah. (KSL TV)...

Ken Fall

EXHAUSTED: Electric transit buses in Utah and the hope for a carbon neutral future

Does the UTA plan for all-electric buses make for dramatic air pollution reductions along the Wasatch Front?

14 days ago

green mountains send up smoke to cover the sky...

Mike Anderson

New $850,000 grant to help Utah monitor wildfire smoke and protect students

We've all see it, the time in late summer and early fall when Utah skies become gray with wildfire smoke. Sometimes it's from other states, sometimes it's even from Canada.

14 days ago

Multiple bills in the Utah Legislature aim to target air quality and offer tax breaks for switching...

Lindsay Aerts

Here’s what the Utah Legislature is doing to address air quality

Multiple bills in the Utah Legislature aim to target air quality and offer tax breaks for switching to electric lawn equipment.

15 days ago

Jennifer Love...

Katija Stjepovic

Rebates make clean air upgrades cheaper for Utahns

It's no secret that Utahns are exhausted by our bad air quality but there are ways you can help reduce emissions from your home.

16 days ago

KSL TV investigated how other cities are managing their air quality. Pictured here is maintenance w...

Deanie Wimmer

Exhausted by bad air: Is smog-eating tech something Utah should consider?

What if Salt Lake could address our pollution problem with technology that “eats” the smog? Several U.S. cities and countries are doing just that with surfaces treated with materials that “neutralize” smog. Is it a solution Utah should consider?

16 days ago

One of the Cottonwood Connect ski shuttles at the Utah Transit Authority Holladay Park and Ride lot...

Katija Stjepovic

Cottonwood Connect shuttles return for 2023-24 ski season

The Cottonwood Connect ski shuttle is returning on Friday for the 2023-24 ski season.

2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Cache County inversions capture high levels of ammonia pollution