will only get worse unless valley makes real changes,
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
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
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."