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Physicians call on gov. to take action against pollution

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Jan 23rd, 2013 @ 6:02pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Calling the inversion and its effects a health emergency, more than 100 doctors have taken their opinion to the governor in hopes to make a change.

Four Utah cities reported the worst pollution in the nation Wednesday. Technically, the air has been labeled "unhealthy for sensitive groups." But at a news conference that day, Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment came forward with one conclusion: the air is causing a real health crisis.

The physicians feel strongly enough that they took a petition full of signatures directly to the governor's office.

The physicians ask that big polluters like oil refineries, Kennecott, ATK and Utah Metal Works cut back operations during periods of heavy inversions. They also want to limit the speed limit to 55, encourage mass transit, prohibit wood burning and launch a public service campaign on those days.

Air quality health protection legend
Good – None

Moderate - Unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.

Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups - The following groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion:
  • People with lung disease, such as asthma.
  • Children and older adults
  • People who are active outdoors
Unhealthy - The following groups should avoid prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion:
  • People with lung disease, such as asthma.
  • Children and older adults
  • People who are active outdoors
Everyone else should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.

Very Unhealthy - The following groups should avoid all outdoor exertion:
  • People with lung disease, such as asthma.
  • Children and older adults
  • People who are active outdoors
Everyone else should limit outdoor exertion.

Info and air forecasts: Utah Department of Air Quality

The governor's spokesperson agreed with this shared-responsibility approach:

"The reality we face is that 50 percent of the pollution we have in the air right now is caused by tailpipes. We simply have to cut back," the governor's spokesperson, Ally Isom, said.

Much of the doctors' urgency comes from the severity and number of the inversion days this year. During the December-through-February inversion season this year, there have been 22 alert days with five weeks to go.

It's enough to have people like Mark Gardiner taking steps of his own.

"I'm wearing a mask because the air isn't fit to breathe," Gardiner said.

This is bothersome for a lot of people, especially since it's gone on so long.

"It's like a utopian city; we just love it. But this is a huge, huge drawback — almost enough to consider relocating," Salt Lake City resident Jen Kious said.

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Updated: Friday September 21, 2018 6:35 pm