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PNS Daily Newscast - July 28, 2017 


The stories on our rundown today: The stories on our rundown today: Senate efforts to reform health-care stand on the brink of collapse; the U.S. Justice Department says civil-rights law doesn’t protect gay and lesbian workers; and farms adapt to the high cost of doing business.

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Report Card: Utah Needs Stronger Protections for Air Quality

National and state-based clean air policies, including reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants, are helping improve air quality in Utah. (Pixabay)
National and state-based clean air policies, including reducing pollution from coal-fired power plants, are helping improve air quality in Utah. (Pixabay)
April 24, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- Overall air quality in Utah is getting better, according to the American Lung Association's latest report card, but the state still is ranked high for particulate and ozone pollution.

Michael Siler, an American Lung Association of the Southwest board member, said that while some 125 million Americans continue to experience dangerous levels of air pollution, it's clear that rules limiting toxic emissions are paying off.

"It's critical that we keep the Clean Air Act in place as a guideline for our country - as a guideline for states,” Siler said. "It's critical that states follow the Clean Air Act and do as much as they can as required by the Clean Air Act."

Siler said he hopes the report sends a clear message to leaders to fully fund, implement and enforce rules that limit the release of toxins to ensure healthy air for all Americans. In March, the Trump administration took steps to block the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan designed to rein in pollution from coal-fired power plants, claiming it constituted government overreach.

Siler noted that even though the state is making progress, residents still are exposed to high levels of pollution, which can put them at risk for asthma attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. He said while all Utahns are at risk, some populations are more vulnerable than others.

"Most vulnerable are children and teenagers; and then, on top of that, folks over age 65 and people who work and recreate outside,” he said.

He said some Utah counties saw bigger spikes in particulate pollution largely because of longer wildfire seasons across the West. Siler said these tiny particles - from forest fires, power plants and diesel engines - lodge deep in the lungs and can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - UT