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Utahns drive more on bad air alert days, study says

By Brady McCombs, Associated Press | Posted - Sep 10th, 2013 @ 5:06pm

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A study from the University of Utah shows people drive more on days when bad air quality alerts are issued - even though the system was created to limit use of cars.

Professor Harvey Miller, author of the study, said 10 years of state traffic counter data shows more cars going up mountain canyons on days in which state officials issued bad air alerts.

Miller believes people are escaping the murky air for the clean air of the nearby Wasatch Mountains.

"One message is a public health message — air quality is bad, limit your exposure," Miller said. "The other message is a social responsibility message — please limit your driving. The air quality is bad, so don't contribute to the problem."

The research, based on data from 2001-2011, shows the trend holds during winter inversions as well as summer ozone days. The Salt Lake Tribune first wrote about the study.

State officials say increased awareness about air pollution has led to reduced driving on alert days in recent years.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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