Man-made pollution compounds inversion problems

The winter, so far, has caused headlines that say Utah suffers the worst air quality in the nation. Research scientist Simon Wang, of the Utah Climate Center (which is housed at Utah State University), says places like Salt Lake City and Logan are prone to winter inversions for a number of reasons.Not only because these communities are located in valleys, which tend to trap cold air, but also because every winter an atmospheric high pressure ridge system develops over the West Coast, creating a sinking motion over Utah that further confines cold, dirty air near the ground.On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Monday, Lang said the air pollution itself is man-made.”It’s correlated with the human activity,” he explained. “For example, the population, we have more people traveling around, we have more factories to produce and support our lives. The more we have the more pollutants we’ll have. “Those pollutants, they accumulate and accumulate and when they are trapped inside, underneath the inversion layer, this cold dirty air, that’s when the red air days happen.” Lang says if we were living in a valley with no human population but instead with deer and buffalo we would still have inversions but there would not be red air days with high pollutants.

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