According to the Utah Department of Air Quality (DAQ), 57 percent of the air pollution during a winter inversion is from vehicles, 32 percent is from area sources like buildings and homes and 11 percent is from industry state sources.
According to the Kennecott Utah Mine web site, the mine is responsible “for 5.8 percent of the annual particulate emissions in the Salt Lake air shed” – a number that the mine has taken from the DAQ. Kennecott claims that it reduces that number to 3.8 percent during the winter when it shuts down its power plant.
While there are many groups that are trying to tackle the problem of Utah’s poor air quality – so poor that a state that should be known for its beautiful scenery is instead gaining the reputation as a place with worse air than Los Angeles – until they are able to achieve some headway, it is going to be up to us as individuals to make a difference in air quality.
Our first priority as individuals should be to reduce that 57 percent number. The only way that we can do that is by not driving. During red air days, it is harder to not drive because no smart person would be outside walking or running and subjecting their lungs to the air.
The governor has asked us to take personal responsibility for our driving habits, so it is up to us to show the will not to drive. That may mean using sick days at work. It may mean using public transportation. It may mean working from home. Whatever it means for you, it is important that you send the governor a message – just a quick email that says to him that you are not driving because it is a red air day.
The only actions that we can control are our own. I applaud those who are trying to get the industry to get greener. Let’s face it, even using Kennecott’s numbers, they are responsible for about 25 percent of industrial pollution when it comes to particulates and much more than that in the summer.
However, it is up to us not only to push our legislators to create stronger rules against polluting but also to reduce the amount of our own polluting activities. What are you willing to do?