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Researchers hoping to learn more about how pollutants form, get trapped in Cache Valley

By Mike Anderson  |  Posted Jan 18th, 2017 @ 9:56pm


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SMITHFIELD, Cache County — What's now a regular monitoring station for pollution in Cache Valley will soon become enhanced with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency.

"A lot of the research is cutting edge, so this is stepping up that state of the art, as far as research on this local scale,” said researcher Randy Martin.

Soon, the inside of the monitoring station will look a bit more enhanced.

A very specialized trailer comes from the EPA out of South Carolina to help the state of Utah. The instruments will give researchers a better look at how the pollution is formed and how to better target it.

“To provide data that they can use and analyze to see what goes into these particulate matter (PM) episodes,” said EPA research chemist Russell W. Long. “What are the formation processes and also what happens to the PM after it’s formed.”

Another major tool is a monitoring plane from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

All of these technologies combine together to help researchers learn about Utah’s bad winter air and where to cut back.

“We have this perfect storm to create this ammonium nitrate problem, this PM2.5 problem, so that makes us somewhat unique in that regard,” Martin said. “It all comes together in this one little area. We’re a little over 100,000 in population; no big industries. Why do we have this?”

While we can't eliminate the inversion or the thick mess trapped in the valleys, we can always improve when it comes to reducing it.

"It's dramatic. There is no safe level of air pollution,” Martin said.

Contributing: Xoel Cardenas

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