Utah winters can bring extra pollution as well as cold temperatures, due to our very unique situation of the concentrated population in valleys where air pollution gets trapped due to inversion. Because of this, it’s important that every person in our beautiful state makes an effort to reduce the impact that they have on air pollution. To make Utah truly have safe air, lots of things need to happen, but every person making small changes can actually have a big impact. Learn more about how you can help, below…
Understanding How Air Pollution Affects Us in Utah
Bundling up in a warm layers, shoveling snow, repairing your furnace, and more, winter brings its own set of challenges for us to overcome. One of the major winter challenges here in Utah is a special brand of pollution called “inversion.” Inversions are caused by a number of factors that occur at just the right time and make the air in our valleys overly polluted.
Because the valleys are surrounded by high mountains, it’s easier for the air to become stagnant when there isn’t any wind or breeze. In the summer, air can still move in an up and down motion, keeping the air fresh and clean. But during the winter, the cold air that is close to the ground gets trapped by the warm air in the higher levels of the atmosphere. The whole thing acts like a little box with a lid on it where pollution can build up to harmful levels.
Automobiles Are a Big Contributor
Particulate pollution is one of the most dangerous types for our health. It is caused by metals, dust particles and other solid pollutants being released into the air. These come from our cars, factories, fireplaces and construction sites. One of the best things we can do to help ease winter inversions is to drive less and to drive smart. Here are a few tips to help reduce pollution caused by automobiles during an inversion:
- Leave your car at home. Walk or ride a bike whenever possible.
- Use public transportation.
- Telecommute when you can.
- Conduct business by internet or telephone instead of running errands in person.
- If you have to drive, try parking in a central location and then walk from there for the rest of the day.
- Drive your newest car to reduce emissions.
- Change your work schedule to commute at less busy times of the day.
- Properly maintain your car so it runs as efficiently as possible.
- Avoid speeding, accelerate slowly, and use cruise control.
- For more driving tips to reduce air pollution, check out this useful article here.
Other Changes You Can Make
In terms of reducing air pollution, Utah’s inversion is only one small part of a larger equation, even though it is a very prevalent one in our state. General air pollution around the planet also has an impact on the air that we breathe. For that reason, there are some green lifestyle changes you can make that will also help to reduce air pollution:
- Cut down on the single-use plastics that you use during the holiday season. Plastic manufacturing causes serious emissions. There are plenty of alternatives today for single-use plastics.
- Recycle your used wrapping paper. Think about how much paper is used to wrap gifts every year. There’s no reason that all of that paper can’t be recycled. Like with plastic, paper manufacturing can cause major air pollution.
- Give gifts that help other people live greener and reduce air pollution. A new thermos means a person can stop using 2-3 plastic/paper cups per day.
- Just generally be aware of the waste that you are producing. Americans have a tendency to produce far more waste during the holiday months, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little mindfulness, you can be an environmentally smarter consumer.