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Advocates Worry Utah’s New Air Quality Alert System Will Make Public Complacent

Bob Nelson

Utah’s new air pollution alert system has some health advocacy groups concerned.  Under the new system announced Monday by the Utah Division of Air Quality, there will be fewer days that will trigger a Red Air Action alert.  Red Air days are considered to be unhealthy for everyone.  In the current system, they are triggered when PM2.5 levels are at 35 micrograms per cubic meter.  The new system raises the threshold to 55. 

“I think it will make the public more complacent,” said Cherise Udell of Utah Moms for Clean Air, “People’s alarm bells will not be going off that we have an air quality program.  And without the alarm bells, we will not be able to put as much pressure on our elected officials to address the problem.”

Officials from the Division of Air Quality say the new system – which includes more colors– is modeled after federal standards.  Director of the DAQ Bryce Bird said, "Tomorrow’s orange is yesterday’s red."

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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