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Salt Lake Valley west-siders bear the brunt of bad air. Tell us more about it

Salt Lake City, inversion, bad air quality, Feb. 9, 2022
Francisco Kjolseth
The Salt Lake Tribune
A plane flies into the Salt Lake International airport as inversion conditions settle into the valley diminishing the air quality on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022.

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The west side of the Salt Lake Valley is home to many things: a diverse population, a vibrant assortment of ethnic culinary options, many small businesses, strong neighborhoods and booming trade industries.

It’s also home to the worst air in the state.

Salt Lake County received an F when graded for high ozone days by the American Lung Association, and air quality monitors frequently show the west side experiencing some of the worst hot spots.

The west side’s intense air quality problem is exacerbated by the legacy of redlining practices still in place with a disproportionate presence of polluting industries. Now, as Great Salt Lake continues to shrink, toxic dust from the bone-dry lake bed is blowing its way toward the west side of the valley.

Many west-siders have a complex relationship with the air they breathe. With an inland port in the works, which is expected to draw more truck and vehicle traffic to the area and highway expansion projects, the health disparities that the communities face may become a larger issue.

The west side already has the worst asthma burdens in Utah, elevated serious health conditions and lower life expectancy compared to the east bench of the valley.

The Salt Lake Tribune and KUER want to hear these stories from residents of West Valley City, Taylorsville, Magna, Kearns, West Jordan and the west side of Salt Lake City.

The goal is to collect 100 first-person audio stories about air pollution. Those will be placed on an air quality map in order to combine data with human experience for the Reaching for Air project. This multimedia effort is funded by the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, a collaboration between Stanford University’s School of Engineering and Columbia Journalism School.

If you live on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley, please take a minute to tell us about your experience or relationship with air quality. Your valuable input will help us reach your neighborhood and listen to your stories.

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