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Jeffery D. Allred/Deseret News

Utah Clean Air: Making the SLC air easier and safer to breathe

By Keith McCord | Posted - Dec. 18, 2014 at 5:15 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — KSL and Utah Clean Air have joined together to promote ways to make the air easier and safer to breathe, suggesting simple things Utahns can do daily to decrease Salt Lake City’s pollution problems.

And looking at the skies on Wednesday certainly added urgency for clearing up the air.

There was moderate air quality at best, and the air will only continue to worsen in the days and months ahead.

First, individuals can start combining errands into one trip, also known as “trip chaining,” as opposed to running one errand at a time throughout the day.

When people make several individual trips without combining them, the stopping and starting of the vehicle over and over again, or “cold starts,” this practice significantly pollutes the air.

"And cold starts are where your vehicle hasn't had a chance to warm up for the day. And it's where we see 60 percent our vehicle emissions,” John Gleason, UDOT spokesman, said.

There are other simpler things citizens can do to make a difference, and it can start with adjusting home thermostats.

“The recommendation is to keep your thermostat during the day about 68 degrees and around 60 degrees at night," Laura Nelson from the Governor's Office of Energy Development said.

Going lower on the thermostat can help even more.

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By lowering your thermostat by one degree, you'll reduce emissions by 1 percent a month, and the pattern continues if you reduce it by two degrees, emissions lower by 2 percent. Homes and commercial businesses alone account for 39 percent of pollution.

Cars, trucks, trains and planes account for 49 percent, and industrial pollution is about 12 percent.

“So you can see those home uses, commercial uses and transportation are big contributors to air quality, so anything we can do to improve those can certainly improve our local environment," Nelson said.

And since homes account for 39 percent of the bad air quality, citizens can certainly start there.

“We're very fond of saying, we're not asking one person to do everything. We're asking everyone to do something,” Gleason said.

“If everybody did it, it could definitely make a difference," Nelson said.

Contributing: Sara Jarman

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