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Summer Smog Means A 'Pretty Poor Year' For Air Pollution In Northern Utah

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Utah Division of Air Quality
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July ozone pollution results at key Utah monitoring sites.

Smoky September skies are dragging out a high-pollution trend that’s dogged Utah all summer.

“This is really a bumper year for, for ozone,” said Bo Call, who oversees pollution monitoring at the Utah Division of Air Quality. It “isn’t really what you want to hear, but that’s the way it is.”

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Credit Utah Division of Air Quality
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Utah Division of Air Quality
Preliminary results for August.

Call told the state Air Quality Board this week that smog exceeded national allowable limits 19 times, and the count’s rising. Record summer heat’s a big factor. The sun basically cooks up ozone pollution.

Salt Lake City and Bountiful have been worst, said Call. “And we don’t seem to be out of the – out of it yet.”

Call says it’s not just ozone pollution that’s been a problem in the first week of September, but wildfire smoke is driving up particulate pollution too. That’s pollution mostly from combustion.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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