Bad air quality becomes a 'turn off' for Utah visitors

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SALT LAKE CITY — The deterioration of Utah's air quality this week is not going unnoticed by visitors to Utah. The air has been so bad, residents can not only see it, but can also taste it and feel it, giving a negative impression of our state to people who come to visit.

"In Salt Lake it was terrible. You couldn't even see the mountains. I was glad to get out of there," said Utah visitor, Chris Morris. "It would be a major factor for me. I don't think I would move to Salt Lake City for that reason."

In Park City at the Sundance Film festival, the clear blue skies indicate clean air, many people dread the thought of going back to the airport and breathing the air in Salt Lake City. Even people from Los Angeles said the Utah air is worse than their hometown.

Many visitors gave feedback saying that the sight of Utah's bad air quality would make them think twice about moving here.

"Having spent time in L.A., I was shocked because I had never seen anything that bad in L.A.," said visitor Gayle Bybee. "It would be a big factor (to defer me from moving here.) I would be concerned it would affect my children's health down the road."

Utah's reputation as a state has become more and more tarnished by its annual thick, foggy layer of pollution, but there aren't any worries about the inversion at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City where there are clear blue skies and clean air.

"It was terribly off putting and it takes away from the pristine beauty you expect here," Bybee said.

Over the last four years, the Wasatch Front has been consistently near the top of the list of cities with the worst short-term particle pollution. But year-round, the air quality is typically much better.

According to the American Lung Association's State of the Air report, California's central Valley has the top three worst cities for air quality, both short term and year round. Los Angeles is ranked as number four. Salt Lake City/Ogden/Clearfield were ranked number six on the short-term list and Logan and Provo ranked as 10th and 11th respectively.

The report gave six counties in Utah an "F grade" for unacceptable high particulate pollution days; Salt Lake City had the most unacceptable days.


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Richard Piatt


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