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Utah cities named among nation's worst for air quality

Utah cities named among nation's worst for air quality

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Andrew Adams and AP reportingAn annual report places two Utah cities among the 10 worst in the country for dirty air. That's even after a relatively clear winter.

Three Utah cities actually make the top 12 worst for short-term particle pollution. The American Lung Association's report says Logan is sixth, Salt Lake City is seventh, and Provo is twelfth.

So what is short-term pollution? The association calls it a "deadly cocktail of ash, soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols that can spike dangerously for hours to weeks on end."

"These are the particles that penetrate deep into the lungs and cause a wide range of health effects, including premature death. It's one of the most serious air pollutants in the country," said Paul Billings, vice president with the American Lung Association.

Overall, only one county in Utah received a passing grade for annual particle pollution. It was Box Elder County, and it received a D.

Salt Lake County logged 28 "red" days in the 2006-07 winter, a signal that kids and older people should avoid outdoor activity. But the recent winter was much better, thanks to several storms.

Bryce Bird of the Utah Division of Air Quality said there were no surprises in the report, but he objected to some of the group's methods and overall conclusions. "Their grades don't reflect the progress we've made," he said.

Voluntary measures, Bird said, seem to be working in Logan and the broader Cache Valley. There's more emphasis on public transportation there.

He said a low grade for Washington County was misleading because it reflected readings from an air monitor at Zion National Park during wildfires in 2005.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report. Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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