"State of the Air" report ranks SLC among dirtiest cities

The American Lung Association's State of the Air 2014 report ranks Salt Lake City among the nation's most polluted cities. Photo courtesy Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development.

SALT LAKE CITY – Salt Lake City is among America’s most polluted cities, according to the <a href=”http://stateoftheair.org” target=”parent”>State of the Air report</a> released by the American Lung Association.

The city ranked eighth on the list of the top 25 most polluted in the U.S. in the category of Short-Term Particle Pollution.

While overall air quality is better than it was a decade ago, the study found that ozone readings have gotten worse in the past few years.

Janice Nolen, the Lung Association’s assistant vice president of national policy, says ozone and particle pollution can lead to serious health issues.

“They can cause asthma attacks, they can cause difficulty breathing, send people to the hospital,” she explains. “But most importantly, they can shorten life – they can shorten life, as we’ve learned, by months to years.”

Nearly half of U.S. residents now live in areas where air quality is unhealthy at least part of the year, according to the report.

Nolen says the changing climate is making it harder to protect the nation’s health, because of the ways rising temperatures boost pollution.

She says cleaner air will require cracking down on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.

“We’ve got to have some reduction in those things that are triggering that heat to grow, and that means we need to have standards that limit and reduce the amount of carbon pollution that’s produced by coal-fired power plants,” she stresses.

The report also recommends stronger vehicle emission standards, improving the air quality monitoring network, cutting wood smoke, adopting ozone standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and educating people about what they can do to reduce pollution, and how to protect themselves when air quality is poor.

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