considers change in air standard that Cache Valley would
have trouble meeting
By Megan Sonderegger
March 21, 2006 | The Environmental Protection Agency
is considering lowering the air standard, an adjustment
that will reduce the number of pollution particles in
order to maintain better air quality, said county executive
Lynn Lemon, a decision which he says will be nearly
impossible to achieve in Cache County.
The air quality standard is a form of measurement
that sets standards on six principal pollutants using
units of parts (particles) per million. These measurements
set limits on the particle size and the amount of air
pollutants allowed in each geographical region in order
to provide ambient air quality to residents.
"If they (EPA) lower the standard they will take away
our incentives, everyone will just throw their hands
in the air and say I can't do it," Lemon said.
Lemon said good air quality is hard to achieve in
Cache Valley because of its large animal population
and its geographical layout. He said county officials
have struggled to maintain the current standard and
reducing the standard will complicate their efforts
"We literally live in a bowl," Lemon said.
Lemon said Cache Valley's high animal population increases
ammonia content, which mixes with nitrate generated
from automobiles to produce unclean air. The extreme
air pressure created in Cache Valley's geographical
region then traps the bad air, resulting in inversions
that are hard to prevent.
"The most important thing we can do is reduce our
driving," Lemon said.
He said there is a significant decrease in the risk
of an inversion on Sundays when the traffic count is
down by one-half reducing the particle content/bad air
by one-half. Lemon said other suggestions have been
made such as required admission tests and the replacement
of older cars but these methods are costly and unrealistic
to lower income residents.
"We were worried about punishing the people who have
the least ability to fix it," Lemon said.
Lemon said an education program has been established
to increase awareness during inversion periods. He said
during these periods of time officials have asked residents
to reduce driving significantly, stay indoors and find
alternative ways of transportation. Although Lemon said
these suggestions are unpopular he assured that inversions
are only 10 to 15 time a year and has asked residents
to be adaptable to the circumstances.
"It's not like we have bad air all the time," he said.
Lemon said although Cache Valley's heavy inversions
have the greatest effect on those with respiratory problems
they can ultimately cause health problems to residents
over long periods.