Air Quality Events Bonanza

UTA bus

UTA bus picks up passengers in downtown Salt Lake City. Photo by Edgar Zuniga, Jr./Flickr

By Ayrel Clark-Proffitt, Sustainability Resource Center

Almost every day, at least 45 minutes of my regular routine benefit the air quality in Salt Lake City. I walk to the bus—295 steps, give or take, and about three minutes. Then 15 minutes on the bus. When I get off the bus on campus, I take another 465 steps between my stop and the entrance of my building. Five minutes. After work, reverse course. Easy.

I am a public transit champion. First of all, I hate driving. Second, it is just as fast for me to take the bus as it is to drive when you include the amount of time it takes to walk from the parking lot to my building. And third, I care about the air. During poor air quality events, the last of these reasons becomes the most important.

An inversion traps pollutants in the Salt Lake Valley. Photo by Tony Frates, Flickr

An inversion traps pollutants in the Salt Lake Valley. Photo by Tony Frates/Flickr

Air quality is a serious concern for those living in the valleys of northern Utah, especially now that we’ve entered Utah’s fifth season, colloquially called “inversion season.” Luckily, for those interested in learning more about the causes and solutions for Utah’s air quality problems, there are a host of symposia and lectures in the coming months. The following is a non-exhaustive list of upcoming events in the Salt Lake area.

Air Quality in Utah: Science for Solutions
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 8 am-2 pm, University Guest House

The Program for Air Quality, Health, and Society, in partnership with the Utah Division of Air Quality, will host a meeting with presentations from the Division of Air Quality research program and University air quality researchers, as well as a poster session and a panel discussion that includes a representative from the Division of Air Quality, a business leader, a health expert, and state legislators. Event is sold out; contact to be added to a wait list.

3rd Annual Idle Free Fleets Conference
Tuesday, Jan. 13, 9 am-3 pm, Hale Centre Theatre, 3333 Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City

Learn from consumers, businesses, fleets, and government organizations about their idle free programs and their successes. Register online.

Under the Air: An Exploration of Utah’s Air Quality
Wednesday, Jan. 14, 7 pm, Gardner Hall

Continuing Education’s annual Reynolds Lecture will feature a panel discussion examining Utah’s poor winter air quality. Register online. Panelists include:

  • Dave Whiteman, atmospheric scientist at the U. He will discuss his recent research about Salt Lake’s climate and winter particulates.
  • Michelle Hofmann, associate professor at the University Hospital. She will address the health effects of our winter air quality.
  • Ryan Evans, VP of Business and Community Relations with the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce. He will address the economic impact of Utah’s air quality.
  • Matt Pacenza, policy director for HEAL Utah, will provide some insight into air quality legislation.

Children and Outdoor Air Pollution: 21st Century Canaries in the Coal Mine?
Thursday, Jan. 15, 8-9 pm, 3rd floor auditorium in Primary Children’s Hospital

Michelle Hofmann, associate professor, examines children’s sensitivities to outdoor air pollution.

Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Energy—A Blueprint for a Better Future
Tuesday, Jan. 27, 8am-2pm, The Leonardo, 209 E 500 S, Salt Lake City

Thought leaders explore the intersection of clean air, clean water, and clean energy. Hosted by the Diplomatic Courier and the Hinckley Institute of Politics. Purchase tickets online: $4 for students with valid ID and $30 for general public.

Clearing the Air: What Inversion Is and How it Affects our Health
Wednesday, Jan. 28, 12-1 pm, Hope Fox Eccles Health Library

Come and learn how inversion affects our health during the winter season and other times of the year from Kevin Perry, chairman of the University of Utah Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

Clean Air, No Excuses Rally 2015
Saturday, Jan. 31, 12-1 pm, Utah State Capitol Building

Join other Utahns at the Capitol to demonstrate that the Legislature and big industry need to do their part to clean Utah’s air. Organized by Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment, Utah Moms for Clean Air, Clean Air Now and others. Sign up to participate on Facebook.

Meteorology of Winter Inversions in the Salt Lake Valley and in the Bingham Copper Mine
Tuesday, Feb. 10, 4-5 pm, Room 210 Aline Skaggs Biology Building

David Whiteman, U of U research professor in Atmospheric Sciences, highlights results from research on wintertime inversions in the Salt Lake Valley using 40 years of historical data. In addition, Whiteman will describe similar inversions at the copper mine. A Global Change & Sustainability Center seminar, co-sponsored by the Program for Air Quality, Health, and Society.

Seminar by Bryce Bird, Director of the Utah Division of Air Quality
Tuesday, Feb. 24, 4-5 pm, Room 210 Aline Skaggs Biology Building

Bryce Bird discusses Utah’s air quality. A Global Change & Sustainability Center seminar.

20th Annual Stegner Symposium—Air Quality: Health, Energy, and Economics
Thursday, March 5-Friday, 7 am-5:30 pm and Friday, March 6, 7:30 am-12:30 pm, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W 300 S, Salt Lake City

Across the nation, great strides have been made addressing air pollution over the last several decades, especially following adoption of the federal Clean Air Act in 1970. Nevertheless, in the West and elsewhere, air quality remains a vexing environmental, economic, and public health dilemma. The symposium features experts from across the country and across disciplines. Register online: $50 for students and $150 for general public (note: prices increase after Feb. 17).

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