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KUER News and RadioWest are bringing you a series of stories and conversations on Utah's air. It's easy to look at the haze on a red air quality day and say that something needs to be done about it. But what? We'll be talking about the roles that individuals, industry and government can play in cleaning up Utah's air quality. We'll also look at what the costs may to be to our economy and our health if we don't.

Herbert Asks Public to Take Responsibility for Clean Air

Brian Grimmett

Governor Gary Herbert demonstrated three simple things Utahns can do to help lower harmful emissions as he kicked off Clean Air Month at a house across the street from the State Capitol today.

Governor Herbert says Utahns aren’t always aware of the simple ways we can help clean up the air but gave these three tips while declaring May Clean Air Month. One could update older fuel storage containers, use paints with low amounts of volatile organic compounds, and replace gas powered yard equipment with cleaner alternatives.

“We all individually have opportunities to do simple things which will help reduce the pollutants in the air too and our volatile organic component parts that come from our everyday living," Herbert says. "But, we’re just probably not aware of them.”

While the Utah Division of Air Quality says that putting these tips into practice could reduce summer air pollutants by one percent, the latest estimates show that Salt Lake area counties still need to reduce wintertime pollution levels by 10 percent if the state is going to meet federal clean air standards. But Bryce Bird, the director of Utah’s Division of Air Quality, echoed Governor Herbert’s comments. He says they’re doing everything they can to find a solution, but in the end it’s up to individuals.

“There are a number of strategies we’re still testing through the models right now," Bird says. "But, clearly, the things we need to focus on are driving less, driving smarter, making sure we’re using the transportation system as best we can, and reducing those smaller individual emissions.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has given Utah until the end of this year to put measures in place to improve Utah’s air quality. If they do not reach the levels set by the EPA by 2019 the state could lose millions of dollars in federal highway funding.

Copyright 2013 KUER 90.1

Brian Grimmett is a former intern who worked his way onto the KUER staff. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in communications. As a student he helped produce and report for the University's daily news show, ElevenNEWS, and also served a year as the station's sports director. Brian developed a love for public radio when he interned at KUER, choosing to do so because it was the only broadcast related internship in Salt Lake City that offered compensation, and now says he couldn't imagine working anywhere else. Brian is originally from Arlington, Texas. When he isn't at KUER Brian enjoys spending time with his wife and and new son, taking pictures, and putting together short films and documentaries.