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Public asked to help cut down on air pollution



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SALT LAKE CITY -- As we prepare to head into the winter months, get ready for inversions associated with air pollution along the Wasatch Front.

Some haze set in Tuesday and could get worse Wednesday and Thursday. Federal environmental regulators once again are urging the public to help cut down on pollution.

During winter inversion periods, pollution builds up in the atmosphere to levels that are unhealthy in the valleys. This pollution is largely a result of transportation and industry. In fact, experts from the Utah Division of Air Quality say almost half of the pollution during the winter season comes from cars.

The division has started its Red Light Green Light program for the winter. The system advises people about winter air pollution conditions. Starting last Sunday, wood-burning restrictions went into effect.

Under green conditions, wood burning is allowed. Yellow means people should voluntarily stop wood burning and limit driving. Red means pollution levels are becoming unhealthy. Under red conditions, wood burning is prohibited and the elderly, children and anyone with respiratory problems are advised to stay inside.

The division set up 21 air monitoring stations throughout the state to check air pollution. Most of the stations are in schools along the Wasatch Front.

Bryce Bird of the Utah Division of Air Quality said, "One of the sensitive populations that is really the focus of air pollution laws is young children. So it is a benefit that a lot of our air monitoring stations are located at schools. We can see the impacts to those who are most sensitive to the influences or the harm that's caused by air pollution."

During 35 years of monitoring air in the Salt Lake Valley, the division has seen a continual trend in better air quality.

In the next few years, it will continue to look for ways to reduce pollution but needs the public's help to do so.

"There are public choices that people can make," Bird said, "individual choices that people can make to improve air quality in their area. Cars are an important part of that. If we can drive less, especially during winter inversion periods, we can see the levels of air pollution decreasing here in our valleys."

Utah's air quality alert program informs people of the air quality in their area. A 3 day forecast is posted on the division's website. CLICK HERE for that.

E-mail: spark@ksl.com

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Shara Park

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