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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 14, 2008

A newspaper creed:

"An institution that should always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty."

-- The New York World, 1883

Inversions will only get worse unless valley makes real changes, experts say

By David Buhler

December 11, 2007 | LOGAN -- As winter approaches, health is once again a major concern within Cache Valley.

Residents are familiar with polluted air and inversions; they deal with them on a yearly basis. But many are beginning to wonder how bad it's going to get before changes are made.

"I hate it!" said resident Lauren Baldwin. "It makes you not want to go outside, and it makes you feel unhealthy."

Regularly, warm air resides near the ground and the temperature gets colder with altitude. In an inversion, the cold air is trapped near the ground and the warm air stays much higher. This is caused by a high-pressure system that keeps the cold air low and can be intensified by snow that reflects sunlight that would normally warm the ground-level air.

Because of Cache Valley's surrounding mountains, Logan becomes a virtual bottle for smog.

Lasting as much as a few weeks, an inversion can clear up when an incoming low-pressure system blows the pollution out or as the cold and warm air mingle and reach equilibrium.

According to lungaction.org, the official site of the American Lung Association, in 2007 Cache County was ranked sixth in the nation for short-term particle pollution, and the Logan metropolitan area was ranked fifth.

This situation directly affects the health of valley residents.

Particle pollution is made up of soot, dust emissions and carbon monoxide. These can restrict oxygen to organs, damage lung tissue, and weaken the immune system and respiratory functions, says deq.Utah.gov.

There are many causes to the pollution in Logan but cars are the major culprits.

Sixty percent of particle matter and 70 percent of carbon monoxide is from vehicle exhaust.

"We've got to change human behavior," said Dr. Robert Gillies, a professor of plants soils and biometeorology at Utah State University, when asked what residents could do. "People leave their cars idling while they're at a drive-through or . . . while they go into the supermarket. It's this kind of thing that we have to stop."

He also said that vehicle emissions testing and cleaner cars would help. Logan has no restriction on vehicle emissions.

Besides the hazards that humans face, there is also a negative impact on the environment.

A great amount of pollutants in the air can cause acid rain that can harm plants as well as animals and make the soil infertile.

The haze can also block out the sunlight needed for healthy plants to grow. This can mean very bad business for the valley's farmers, who base their livelihood on the success of their crops. Until something is done, the inversion will continue to get worse.

"The inversion is something that effects all of us whether we're conscious of it or not," says Baldwin. "We need to take the proper actions to protect our ourselves as well as the environment."


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