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Utahns most unsatisfied with air quality, poll says

Utahns most unsatisfied with air quality, poll says



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SALT LAKE CITY — A recent Gallup poll shows that Utahns are the most unsatisfied with their air quality than any state in the nation.

The Gallup poll was conducted from June to December 2013 in all 50 states. The average across the nation ranked 90 percent of residents being satisfied with the air quality in their state. However, Utahns were the most unsatisfied with air quality — by a large majority — with only 65 percent of residents satisfied.

The next lowest rankings also came from Western states. Nevada had the second-lowest air quality satisfaction with 71 percent satisfied, while California ranked in as third lowest with 74 percent of residents satisfied with the air quality. Residents living in the Midwest were the most satisfied with their state's air quality.

The study credited Utah's pollution inversion as the reason why one in three residents were unhappy with the air quality. The executive director of the Utah State Department of Environmental Quality also weighed in on the dissatisfaction levels and said that Utahns may just be more aware of the issue because of the inversion.

"It's really this kind of western clump (that is unsatisfied with air quality) which leaves me to wonder if people are more in tune with it because we live in these beautiful, wide open, western spaces," Smith said. "More and more often those distances are hazy, even in the summer time."

However, Smith said Utah's polling numbers may also have been skewed because the majority of people in Utah live along the Wasatch Front where the inversion and pollution is the worst.

"For those people who live here on the Wasatch Front and are able to see our inversion, which what you see and the intensity of what is visible, can create a very negative impact on how people feel about air quality," she said. "The visual impairment is not always directly related to the actual quality of the air. Certainly that is a first impression."

Smith said 54 percent of the emissions for pollution during the winter months is caused by automobiles. She said Utahns can help decrease the pollution by carpooling, biking or riding public transportation whenever possible. She said there is a list of ways to help eliminate pollution online.

Contributing: Dave Cawley

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Faith Heaton Jolley

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