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Be a Part of the Solution: Join the Clear the Air Challenge

Image of public transit trains in downtown Salt Lake City during the winter.

Feb. 2, 2021

You can  help improve Utah’s air quality through the month-long competition

By DEQ Communications

The Clear the Air Challenge, a month-long competition that encourages Utahns to drive less and drive smarter, began Feb. 1. Here’s why it matters, how it helps and how you can join.

Why does it matter?

Utah’s air quality meets federal standards most of the year, but in the winter, poor air quality is a result of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution — airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers. About 45% comes from car exhaust. Reducing this pollution is an important step in improving Utah’s air and protecting our health.

PM2.5 particles can become trapped in people’s lungs and bloodstream and have been linked to a number of health conditions including aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms such as coughing or difficulty breathing.

This pollution is troublesome in the winter because the natural geography of Northern Utah valleys is prone to thermal inversions — weather conditions that slow the normal circulation of air away from valley floors. When inversions occur, pollution is trapped at ground level where people live and breathe. February is the month when Utah usually has the most inversions.

How does the Clear the Air Challenge help?

When you participate in the Clear the Air Challenge, your goal is to cut out as many car trips as possible. You can do this by using healthy transportation alternatives like carpooling, teleworking, biking, combining multiple car trips into one, and using public transportation. Using helpful online and mobile-friendly tools, you can track your progress.

How do I participate?

Just visit clearthearichallenge.org to sign up. Then, start logging the miles you save by carpooling, trip chaining, taking public transit, or teleworking.