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View Diary: UPDATE RALLY ON! Is Utah's Air Quality Doomed to Remain Toxic Forever? It May be killing you now! (90 comments)

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  •  I read the linked article (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, jlms qkw, captainlaser

    and I am confused about exactly what are the pollution problems and who is causing it.

    Next to the story is a bar chart showing there are lots of high-ozone days.  Most ozone problems are caused by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen  (NOx), and car and truck tailpipe emissions would be the likely culprits.

    Then the story says fine dust (PM 2.5) levels are also seriously high.  There are probably separate culprits for PM 2.5, maybe including the sand mine the diarist mentioned.  The sand dust would also contain silica, which causes cancer in some countries.

    Then public authorities blame old truck engines for "nitrous oxide"  problems.  That's laughing gas. Are they really referring to Oxides of Nitrogen, which contributes to ozone?

    And finally the authorities blame the coal fired units at Kennecott, which they say are 30% of the problem.  Whether they mean the ozone, or the fine dust problem, they don't say.  Maybe both.  But industry altogether is only 20% of the total air pollution.  How can one single industrial site produce more pollution than all of the area's industries combined?

    Kennecott's coal burning, and dust from its mining and tailings waste piles, are certainly big pollution sources that worsen ozone and dust violations, but I cannot calculate how Kennecott would possibly amount for 30% of the pollution. And I hate Kennecott.  I fought them hard on their new tailings dams a decade ago.

    The elevated air pollution in the Salt Lake vicinity is tragic and truly is killing people when it violates air quality standards, but better reporting would help pinpoint the real culprits.

    (tipped & Rec'ced)

    •  Today's problem is particulate pollution below (4+ / 0-)

      2.5 micrometers in diameter.  Salt Lake City and Provo are pushing levels reaching 80 micrograms per cubic meter (daily recommended levels in the US are 35 micrograms per cubic meter over an eight hour period).  The levels today are assessed by EPA as being "unhealthy".

      Major sources of wintertime particulates are black carbon (soot from cars and wood burning) and nitrates (largely from automobiles).  Power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide are also in the mix but with low solar angles, the formation of sulfate aerosol takes longer than in the summer.

      USU supported an air quality study last winter from their energy dynamics lab, but later in the year, that institute had "their plug pulled."

      Understanding this problem is not a two week process and one field experiment.  The State needs to make a commitment to cleaning the air.

      Boehner - yes; Cantor - No; Ryan - Yes; Issa -No, let's call the whole thing off.

      by captainlaser on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:37:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd also be asking (3+ / 0-)

        the regulators about what percentage of crystalline silica is in those high levels of fine dust. Dust from the Sand mines, and probably Kennecott, may contain lots of silica, which is essentially like breathing broken glass.

        Percentages of Silica and other trace metals could also provide a "signature" that would help identify the dust sources.

        •  Thank you for raising the silica issue (0+ / 0-)

          It concerns me, but I really, really worry about the young families buying the homes built right next to the huge sand pit on the south end of Salt Lake city.  My friend lives near there and finds sand in the bath tub when the water has drained out.  Could there be silica IN the water, too?

          Honestly, where the heck is the EPA in Utah?

          It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

          by War on Error on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:23:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Silicates should be in a larger size fraction than (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          War on Error, ballerina X

          PM2.5 (like PM10 or 10 micrometer size dust).  If you can wipe your finger across the dust and see it on your finger, it is likely to be large particles (sorry, large is all relative, but related to the size of particles that can penetrate deep into your lungs, 10 um is large).

          Silicon is a significant fraction of SLC aerosol... there is a paper by Tesh Rao of EPA which shows the significance of total crustal material on SLC (as compared to other cities)

          Paper here

          Boehner - yes; Cantor - No; Ryan - Yes; Issa -No, let's call the whole thing off.

          by captainlaser on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:55:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  first paragraph has an error (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The current national ambient air quality standard for PM 2.5 is 35 micrograms per cubic meter for 24 hour average.   There is an annual standard but not 8 hr standard.

        However, if you are looking at reported values of PM 2.5 today, those are not taken by the same monitors as are used under the federal reference method for measuring compliance with the PM 2.5 NAAQS.

        If you are seeing numbers like 80 ug/M3, those are probably hourly averages and not 24 hour averages as that is how TEOM PM 2.5 monitors work and report their data.

        It is not proper to compare a 1 hour average reported for PM 2.5 with the numerical value of the 24 hour standard for purposes of determining whether the national ambient air quality standard for PM 2.5 has been exceeded.

        •  Captainlaser's (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          War on Error

          link to the SmogBlog shows some Pm 2.5 detection meters in the SLC Basin  probably averaged over 50-60 ug/M3 recently as a 24-hour average, since they are reading 60-80 ug/M3 every hour on the hour for 24 hours.

          This link is a couple of comments downthread.

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