Yesterday, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment declared that the air in Salt Lake City constituted a health emergency. From CBS News:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has singled out the greater Salt Lake region as having the nation's worst air for much of January, when an icy fog smothers mountain valleys for days or weeks at a time and traps lung-busting soot.
That's what led more than 100 Utah doctors to petition state officials on Wednesday. They suggest lowering highway speed limits, making mass transit free for the winter and curbing industrial activities. They also call for a permanent ban on wood-burning, and want large employees to let people work from home.
Levels of soot in the air around Salt Lake City reached 130 micrograms per cubic meter -- well above the EPA's clean air standard of 35 micrograms.
Interestingly, at about the same time that the physicians group made its declaration, a (Republican!) state legislator in Utah introduced a bill targeting one key contributor to air pollution and soot: wildfires. Climate change is expected to vastly increase the number of wildfires in the state, for which Rep. Kraig Powell suggests the state should plan in advance. From The Salt Lake Tribune: