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Utah Residents Can Help "Clear the Air"

GRAPHIC: To help improve the state's air quality, thousands of Utah residents are expected to drive less this month as part of the annual Clear the Air Challenge. Graphic courtesy Salt Lake Chamber.
GRAPHIC: To help improve the state's air quality, thousands of Utah residents are expected to drive less this month as part of the annual Clear the Air Challenge. Graphic courtesy Salt Lake Chamber.
July 2, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah residents are being asked to drive less in July as part of the state's annual Clear the Air Challenge, which organizers say has helped stop thousands of tons of emissions from entering the atmosphere.

Ryan Evans, vice president of business and community relations with the Salt Lake Chamber, one of the operators of the event, says thousands of Utahns help improve air quality each year by avoiding trips alone in their car – and instead, carpool or use public transit, walk and bicycle.

"For the overall, collective six years, that is a total of about nine million miles saved," says Evans. "Almost 3,000 tons of emissions saved."

According to Evans, almost 7,000 people participated in the Clear the Air Challenge event last year, with the majority of attendees on teams organized through their employers.

Evans says the vast majority of businesses support the challenge, because improving air quality ultimately improves their bottom line.

"With poor air, it's potentially more regulations placed on business if we don't improve things," he says. "It certainly could be a greater burden on healthcare costs if more people are sick from poor air."

According to the American Lung Association, Salt Lake City and Logan rank as the nation's seventh and eighth most polluted cities for short-term particle pollution.

Interested parties or teams can join via the Clear the Air Challenge website, at www.cleartheairchallenge.org. Participants log trips not taken in a vehicle, and a trophy and prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT