Air pollution isn’t just harmful to our health—it’s also bad for business. Recently, thirty companies across Utah’s Wasatch Front sent a joint letter to Governor Herbert asking him to propose “strong and ambitious” solutions to this urgent issue. Their call to action could not come at a more important time.

Earlier this year, Utah was required by federal law to develop a plan to curb air pollution after the state failed to meet a deadline for improving air quality. For nearly 9 years, the Salt Lake City, Logan, and Provo areas have failed federal clean air standards for fine particulate matter pollution. Fine particulate matter consists of extremely small particles that, when inhaled, may trigger heart attacks, strokes, respiratory disease, higher rates of hospitalization, more severe asthma attacks, increased mortality in children and infants and premature death among the general population.

Why Tiny Particles Are a Big Deal

Fine particle pollution (often called, “PM2.5”) leads to a wide range of poor health outcomes, including shortened life expectancy, high rates of cancer, infectious diseases, respiratory and heart disease, reproductive disorders, adverse pregnancy outcomes, anemia, birth defects, and infant mortality. Recently, studies have connected fine particle pollution with Alzheimer’s disease. Utah has the highest prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in the nation.

Residents in Wasatch Front communities are all too familiar with high rates of asthma, severe asthma attacks and bad air days that force families to remain indoors. For Utah businesses, clean air and a healthy environment are crucial for attracting and retaining employee talent and keeping the economy prosperous.

“As a growing Salt Lake City-based business, it is crucial for us to operate in a state that supports air quality for both human and environmental health,” said Lindsey Elliott, co-founder of Wylder Goods, in a recent press release. “The poor air quality here impacts our ability to recruit and retain employees, and also affects personal health and recreation company-wide. If Utah wants to support innovation and draw new businesses to the state, it must consider the full range of options that exist to address air quality to make Utah more appealing.”

The 30 businesses that signed onto the letter to Governor Herbert span a variety of types and industries, from large outdoor recreation companies like Patagonia and Petzl, to local real estate firms and car dealerships. They ask the governor to look into reducing fine particulate pollution from key sources, including wood smoke and “heavy duty” and “non-road” vehicles and equipment. This strong call to action followed recent reports that indicated that Utah will likely fail to meet this year’s deadline for producing a plan to curb air pollution.

Here at Western Resource Advocates, we are optimistic that more public attention will encourage the state of Utah to prioritize air quality. We are working with our partners at HEAL Utah and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment to defend clean air standards and ensure that the state’s forthcoming Serious State Implementation Plan contains bold and effective solutions to address this critical health issue that has gone unresolved for far too long.

We also need your voice. Please join with us to ask the Division of Air Quality to make Utah a safe place to breathe, live, work, and play. Click here to take action today.

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