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May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor: Test Your Home for Radon Today

By Eleanor Divver

You’ve probably heard about radon in the news, or maybe from a friend or neighbor. You may know that radon is a radioactive, cancer-causing gas. You may even know that it is the number-one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

(You undoubtedly know that NASA didn’t bring it back from the moon, but it may be difficult to convince Phil of that.)

But while many people are aware that radon in their home poses a serious health hazard, they may think that testing and mitigating for radon is difficult or prohibitively expensive (it’s not). Besides, what are the odds that your house would test high for radon?

Depending on where you live in Utah, the odds aren’t necessarily in your favor. One out of three homes in Utah test above the radon action level of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air, and in some areas of Utah, one out of two homes test above the action level. In fact, the average radon level in homes tested in Utah is an unhealthy 5.3 pCi/L of air.

Reasons to test – and retest – for radon

A family moved into their dream home in Salt Lake City 15 years ago and tested their home for radon. The home’s radon levels were below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) radon action level. The family started remodeling and never thought about radon again until the ER visit where they discovered that the wife and mother of the family had Stage 4 Lung Cancer. But she never smoked—how was this possible?

They re-tested the home and discovered the radon levels were very high—so high that it was like smoking three packs of cigarettes per day. How did this happen? Well, radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and rock. So when the family remodeled their home, they inadvertently created an opening in their foundation that allowed radon gas in the soil to enter their home.

How to test  your home for radon

Testing your home is easy and inexpensive. Test kits are available online for $9 for Utah residents.

The quickest way to test is through a short-term test that remains in your home for about two days. Some general instructions:

  • Close your windows and outside doors and keep them closed as much as possible during the test.
  • Place the test kit in the lowest, lived-in level of the home, such as basement. The kit should be put in a room that is used regularly like a living room, playroom, den or bedroom, but not your kitchen or bathroom.
  • Place the kit at least 20 inches above the floor in a location where it won’t be disturbed, away from drafts, high heat, high humidity, and exterior walls. Leave the kit in place for as long as the package says.
  • Reseal the package once you’ve finished the test and send it right away for analysis to the lab specified on the package. You should receive your results within a few weeks.

How to mitigate your home for radon

Learning that you have elevated radon levels in your home can be upsetting, but fixing the problem is easier and less expensive than you may think.

Hire a certified mitigator

Certified mitigators have the technical knowledge to reduce radon levels in your home safely and effectively, so it’s critical that you hire a trained contractor who is certified in radon mitigation. Go to our radon website and click on the Certified Mitigator link.

Get three bids from the NRPP/AARST list

If you solicit at least three bids, you will have a good idea of the general price range of mitigation services. You may want to choose a contractor located close to your house or go with the lowest price.

Weigh your cost options

Your contractor will usually recommend an active mitigation system either inside your home or outside the house. Since every home is different, one option may work better for you than the other. The cost should be around $1500.

Get a signed contract

The mitigator should sign a contract that he or she will get the levels at or below 2.7 pCi/L of air. If he or she is not willing to do this, don’t use them.

Test your home for radon after the system is installed

The contractor will give you a test kit to check the radon levels in your home after the mitigation system has been running for 24 hours. Certified mitigators guarantee their work, so they will return to your home and make adjustments to your system if the levels don’t fall below the 2.7 pCi/L threshold.

Check your radon mitigation system regularly after installation

You can tell if your mitigation system is working properly by checking the manometer installed by the contractor. The manometer measures the vacuum pressure inside the system, letting you know if the system is on and the fan is working. We recommend that you test your home every two years, even with a mitigation system, to make sure that the system is still functioning properly.

Your ongoing costs will be relatively minimal after installation. You’ll pay about $6 to $8 per month on your utility bill, and you will need to replace the fan after about 15 years. If you or a family member needs financial assistance and you live in Salt Lake County, Green and Healthy Homes has funding available to help qualifying families pay for the costs of mitigation.

We hope this article takes some of the mystery out of radon and radon mitigation. And remember, to protect yourself and your family, test your home for radon today.

We have $9 test kits available for Utah residents. Testing is easy, and you’ll get your results back quickly. If you have further questions about radon or radon mitigation systems, please call me at 801-536-0091.

Radon Gas

I have worked in the radon field for 18 years, most recently as the radon coordinator for the Department of Environmental Quality. I enjoy being outdoors with my family and golden retriever.

This entry was originally published on November 13th, 2017, updated on November 13th, 2017, and posted in news.

UCAIR Isn’t Blowing Smoke with Its Wood Stove Exchange Program

By Bailey Toolson, Guest Blogger

 DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.

Governor Gary Herbert announces the UCAIR Wood Stove exchange program flanked by cleaner-burning gas-powered stoves.

Governor Gary Herbert announces the UCAIR Wood Stove exchange program flanked by cleaner-burning gas-powered stoves


Our mission at UCAIR is to make it easier for individuals, businesses, and communities to make changes that improve our air. We know that every change, no matter how small, brings us one step closer to our goal of clean air in Utah. In the spirit of our mission, UCAIR, with generous support from Chevron, Andeavor, and the Eccles Foundation, is proud to announce the Show UCAIR Wood Stove Exchange. This incentive program is entirely voluntary and not linked to any rule or ordinance.

Wood smoke from residential burning is a significant contributor to the Wasatch Front’s winter-time inversions. Smoke from wood-burning fireplaces, stoves, and inserts contains a wide variety of pollutants, including fine particulate matter or PM2.5. Recent research by state scientists indicates that, on average, 16 percent of the particulate pollution in the Salt Lake Valley can be attributed to wood smoke. The percentage is even higher in Utah County, where 21 percent of particulate pollution can be attributed to wood smoke.

Through this program, UCAIR will be able to exchange 80 wood-burning stoves and inserts for cleaner gas-burning appliances. Exchanging a wood-burning appliance for a gas appliance provides a 95 percent reduction in emissions. The average life of a gas stove is 40 years, so over the lifetime of these 80 stoves, there will be a 150-ton emission reduction from the air we breathe!

Wood stove exchange

UCAIR Executive Director Thom Carter

UCAIR was honored to launch the Show UCAIR Wood Stove Exchange on November 1, 2017, with Governor Herbert and our sponsors, Andeavor and Chevron. Our staff was also joined by representatives from the program vendors, Maple Mountain Fireplace and Hearth & Home Distributors of Utah, who brought display stoves to the event.

Residents of Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, and eastern Tooele counties are eligible to participate in this exchange. If you’re interested, complete program rules and process are listed below.

Wood Stove Exchange Program Rules

  • The home must be located in a residential neighborhood
  • The home must be a primary residence (no summer homes or cabins)
  • Old stove must be operable and regularly used
  • Old stove must be a free-standing wood stove or wood-burning stove insert
  • Natural gas or propane service must already be in place
  • New appliance must be natural gas or propane (no EPA approved wood or pellet units)
  • Old stove or insert must be destroyed and proof provided
  • New appliance must be professionally installed
  • Installers must comply with all local, state and federal guidelines, laws and building codes

 Wood Stove Exchange Process

  • Homeowner submits downloaded application to UCAIR (mailed, emailed, faxed or in person) for approval. UCAIR completes initial inspection of home to verify old stove is operable and in use
  • UCAIR collects details on wood usage
  • UCAIR approves application and issues $1,000 voucher
  • Homeowner takes voucher to Maple Mountain Fireplaceor Hearth and Home of Utah
  • Homeowner selects from eligible gas or propane stoves or inserts (must have intermittent pilot ignition/electronic ignition)
  • Vendor secures funding for all but $1,000 of the cost of device and installation
  • Vendor installs device, complying with all local, state and federal guidelines, laws and building codes
  • Vendor delivers stove to destruction site and obtains proof of destruction
  • Vendor delivers proof of destruction to UCAIR
  • UCAIR pays vendor $1,000
We had an overwhelming response from the public since our announcement last week, and all our vouchers have been claimed. We encourage you to consider switching from a wood-burning to a gas-burning stove, voucher or not — it’s good for you and good for the environment.

Bailey ToolsonI have been the Program Manager at UCAIR for nearly 2 years. I previously managed the Air Assist Small Business Assistance program, and I am excited to get to work exchanging wood stoves. Prior to joining UCAIR, I worked for nearly four years with the Division of Air Quality. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking and camping, travel, and all things Italian.


This entry was originally published on November 6th, 2017, updated on November 6th, 2017, and posted in news.

Smog Rating Helps You Choose a Cleaner Car for Cleaner Air

By Ashley Miller, Guest Blogger

DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.

Smog rating

EPA smog rating on the window sticker, located in the lower right-hand corner

There were many things that drew me to Utah, but the incredible skiing, beautiful mountains, and incredibly light snow were high on the list. But with this beauty comes a unique challenge: our mountains shape our living space into a bowl, and our cold temperatures create inversions that trap emissions in that bowl, keeping us in a thick soup of particulate pollution until a storm blows it away.

On the average day along the Wasatch Front, vehicle emissions from mobile sources account for nearly half of our air pollution — about 48 percent in winter, and 45 percent in summer. Utah is experiencing vast population growth, and vehicle miles traveled are expected to double by 2040. Transportation and air-quality challenges come with population growth, so we have to think very carefully about how we can minimize the air-quality impact from more people with more cars.

One thing that we can do individually is to consider air quality when we purchase a vehicle. Here are a few simple ways to find a clean vehicle that meets your needs.

Check out the window sticker

Look for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) label on the vehicle’s window sticker. There you’ll find information about the car’s fuel economy, greenhouse gas emissions, and most importantly, a smog rating. The smog rating scale is based on the U.S. Vehicle Emissions Standards, which incorporate specific thresholds for nitrogen oxides, non-methane organic gas, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and formaldehyde. The rating is on a scale of one to ten, and vehicles that score a ten are the cleanest.

Purchase a vehicle with a “high” smog rating

smog rating

Here I am with my RAV4. It has a smog rating of 8!

With smog ratings, higher is better: the higher the number, the cleaner the car. What does a better smog rating mean for our air quality? A vehicle with a smog rating of “8” emits about one-fifth of the emissions of a vehicle with a smog rating of “5.”

If buying a brand new car off a dealership lot isn’t right for you and your family, you can still find the smog ratings for used cars. Go to, find the type of car you want, compare cars side-by-side, and find the cleanest car that meets your needs.

If you’re looking at buying a car from a private-party seller, the emissions information can be found on or on the spot right under the hood. Cars have a Vehicle Emissions Control Information placard, and with your smart phone you can do a quick search to find out what the numbers mean. And even if you’re looking for a much older vehicle, with this information you can make a choice based on that car’s impact to our airshed. Remember, each number higher on the smog rating scale means dramatically fewer tailpipe emissions and cleaner air in Utah.

Consider your options

Electric vehicles (EVs)

All-electric, or battery-electric vehicles, have a smog rating of 10 and are the only vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions. The emissions from electricity generation are an important part of the equation, but even in regions dominated by relatively dirty power like coal, the emissions produced by the electricity drawn charging an EV are less than the emissions of the average compact, conventional vehicle. And as America’s electricity grids become cleaner and fueled by more renewables, charging EVs will become even cleaner.

If you’re thinking about making the switch to an electric vehicle, there is no better time than now. With so many makes and models available today, going electric is a much easier decision than even just a few years ago. EVs are coming down in price and are significantly cheaper to fuel than their gas counterparts. The average price of electricity has remained fairly static over the last decade, while oil prices to rise, drop, spike, dip and rise again over the same time period. EVs are remarkably simple to maintain because an electric motor has fewer moving parts compared to a combustion engine. This means that you’ll also be saving money on maintenance over the life of the vehicle.


If you’re still not quite ready to make the switch to an all-electric car, there are many other options out there. Hybrids are a great choice and come in a variety of makes and models. The best part about hybrids is they almost entirely eliminate idling by switching to battery power when the vehicle stops in traffic. Being idle-free is a great way to reduce vehicle emissions, and hybrids do the work for you. Many hybrids and plug-in hybrids have a smog rating of 8. And if your car has a smog rating of 8 or higher, you can apply for Salt Lake City’s Green Vehicle sticker, which allows you to park free on the street at the meter for two hours.

When you are in the market for your next car, be sure to look at the smog rating. The decisions we make every day can make a big difference in our air quality and our health.

Want to know more? Check out the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide to learn more about green vehicles, how to help make transportation greener, and transportation options for the future.

I am an attorney originally from Lake Tahoe, California. I am the Policy Director for the local, nonprofit air-quality advocacy group Breathe Utah. My passions run deep in all things outdoors, like skiing and mountain biking. I was recently appointed by Governor Herbert to the new Air Quality Policy Advisory Board. I am also a member of the Salt Lake County Health Department Environmental Quality Advisory Commission, and the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Plan Advisory Committee.

This entry was originally published on October 30th, 2017, updated on October 30th, 2017, and posted in news.

DEQ Employees Embrace a Culture of Giving and Volunteerism

Interview with Don Verbica


Don volunteers at the Natural History Museum.

For over 60 years, the State Employee Charitable Fund Drive has provided state employees with the opportunity to contribute to the wide range of local non-profit organizations helping people in our communities. One hundred percent of the donations stay right here in the state! The 2017 drive raised over $350,000 for 60 charities; we hope the 2018 drive will raise even more. Don Verbica, Section Manager for Low-Level Radioactive Waste Section, Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control, has served as chair for the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ’s) fund drive team. His volunteerism extends beyond the workplace — he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama last year. We sat down to talk with Don about the reasons he volunteers and the longstanding culture of volunteerism at DEQ.     

What inspires you to volunteer?

I like people, and I like to see people happy.

Tell us a little bit more about your volunteer experiences.

Well, I really enjoy volunteering at the Natural History Museum. I’m a geologist and am passionate about paleontology. I go out on digs to do field work with the museum where I can and explore great places like Utah’s Grand Staircase. Part of my volunteer work involves removing the matrix covering dinosaur bones. It’s painstaking work, but when I’m finished, I’m the first person to see those bones! I help out at museum events, like Halloween at the Museum or Behind the Scenes. I often get to work with kids when they come to visit. I get to talk with them about dinosaurs and dinosaur bones. It’s fun to see their enthusiasm and excitement. When they leave, I feel like I’ve made their day a little bit better.

I enjoy helping my neighbors, volunteering at my church, and helping scouts with geology. I also donate platelets to the Red Cross because my blood type is fairly rare.

You mentioned you volunteer with Meals on Wheels through work.

DEQ partnered with Meals on Wheels many years ago. The agency lets employees use their lunch hour to deliver meals to elderly residents in our neighborhood. It’s been a great thing, both for staff and the folks who live near our offices. Did you know that many elderly people can stay in their homes if they can get a meal delivered to them? That can make a big difference in their quality of life. The folks I’ve met have been so appreciative, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of them really well. You build relationships with people, listen to their stories. Just visiting with them makes their day a little bit brighter.

Can you tell us about DEQ’s participation in the Charitable Fund Drive?
Lots of presents under tree for The Christmas Box House from the DEQ Holiday Charity

Presents for the kids at the Christmas Box House.

Each year, a committee of representatives from each department meets with local charities to learn more about their organizations and their needs. Division representatives are available to help co-workers sign up online and answer questions. The DEQ Fund Drive Chair (Eileen Brennan is our chair this year) sends out friendly reminders to staff as the deadline to sign up approaches. With over 600 charities to choose from, state employees can usually find a local cause that they support. And by using a payroll deduction, they can provide that support year-round.

What kind of response have you seen from DEQ employees during the fund drive?

Our employees are always really generous. In fact, DEQ employees don’t just contribute to our community during the State Employee Charitable Fund drive. For example, we hold a department-wide Holiday Charity Drive every year. During last year’s charity drive, DEQ collected items and cash donations for The Christmas Box House and Best Friends. In prior years, we’ve donated to the Utah Food Bank, Odyssey House, Rose Park Elementary, Toys for Tots, and the Salt Lake County Animal Shelter. Our Executive Director’s Office was a “Sub for Santa” for the Cancer Unit at Primary Children’s Hospital last year and will continue the tradition again next year. Employees donated money, school clothes, and other needed items to the The Road Home Family Center during our summer DEQ service project, “Fill the Cube.”

DEQ employees volunteer at the Unity Garden

DEQ employees initiated an Earth Day project to clean up the Unity Garden in their neighborhood.

We regularly participate in cleanup days on the Jordan River, planting trees and picking up garbage along the riverbank. This past Earth Day, DEQ employees volunteered to spruce up the Unity Garden at the Sorenson Multicultural Center. As with our Meals on Wheels program, we try to volunteer in our neighborhood whenever we can.

Why do think DEQ employees embrace volunteerism?

We work hard every day to protect Utah’s environment. People at DEQ are passionate about serving the public and making a difference. They want the best for future generations and are willing to do what it takes to make that happen. After all, that’s why we work at DEQ! I think our dedication to public service, at work and at home, is the foundation of our collective volunteer spirit.

Don Verbica grew up in small mining towns in Arizona and New Mexico, where almost everyone worked at the mines — including his father — and where he held one of his first jobs. That background led to a lifelong interest in geology, archaeology, and paleontology. After serving in the Navy, he obtained a degree in geology from BYU (but roots for U of U football). He worked in barite mining and field exploration before embarking on his career with the State in environmental quality nearly 34 years ago. Don is married with three children, and hopes to have grandchildren someday. He enjoys spending time with his family, reading, rock collecting, traveling, trying rare and exotic foods, hiking, eating Mexican food (he has a hot sauce collection in his office), walking the neighborhood to talk with people, fly fishing, and collecting old coins as well as coins and currency from around the world.  

This entry was originally published on October 23rd, 2017, updated on October 23rd, 2017, and posted in news.

DEQ’s CAP Bridges the Gap with Small Businesses

By Paul Harding

Click on photo for a larger view

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is committed to working with small businesses to safeguard the quality of our air, land, and water. But we are also committed to helping these businesses understand the environmental regulations that affect their operations, listening to their concerns, and exploring strategies and technologies that can protect both our environment AND their bottom line. The Utah Small Business Compliance Advisory Panel (CAP) is one way we ensure that small business sectors have easy access to our staff and the information they need to comply with environmental regulations. The CAP also serves as a sounding board for small businesses, providing them with an opportunity to offer input on existing and proposed regulations.

Compliance Advisory Panels (CAPs): The Clean Air Act

On November 15, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAA) into law. These amendments to the 1970 Act extended federal clean-air controls to small businesses after studies indicated that new federal controls on smaller air-pollution sources were needed to adequately address air-quality problems.

Section 507 of the CAA Amendments included provisions requiring all state governments to create Small Business Technical Compliance Assistance Programs to assist small businesses in complying with these new air-pollution control responsibilities. One provision required states to establish Small Business Compliance Advisory Panels (CAPs) consisting of representatives of small businesses and members of the general public.

Utah’s Small Business Compliance Advisory Panel (CAP)

DEQ’s Small Business CAP  provides input to the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) regarding the needs of small businesses. This information, in turn, helps DAQ help small businesses comply with state and federal air-pollution laws.

Utah’s CAP, comprised of seven formal members, meets quarterly. Two members are selected by the governor, four by the legislature, and one by the Executive Director of DEQ. This selection process ensures a broad range of participants. To qualify as a small business under state law, the company must have 100 employees or less and fall below the emissions threshold of a Major Source as defined by state regulations.

Better Communication, Better Regulations

It has been my good fortune to coordinate the Small Business CAP for our state. The volunteer panel helps DAQ make the regulatory process more effective by bringing in the voices of small businesses from sectors that might otherwise not be represented. My position gives me the opportunity to observe the many advantages of collaboration between the private sector, the small business community, and the public sector (DAQ).

I see Small Business CAP representatives benefiting professionally from their participation as they become more knowledgeable about environmental regulations. Members become familiar with DAQ, so they know who to contact with questions and feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it. In turn, they share the knowledge they gain from their interactions with DAQ staff with their professional associations and organizations. DAQ scientists and regulators benefit from their participation in the Small Business CAP. DAQ personnel attending CAP meetings not only gain a better appreciation for the challenges faced by small-business owners, they also forge good working relationships with its members, and by extension, with other small-business owners.

The CAP also facilitates two-way communication between DAQ and the regulated community. For example, when DAQ needs to disseminate information about proposed or existing rules to unique business sectors, the business members of the CAP can communicate this message to their associates, either directly or through organizational channels. In addition, CAP members can help craft the message so it is understandable to the intended audience.

It has been a pleasure to see the mutual respect that has naturally evolved from an association of professionals who are intent on helping one another. The Small Business CAP demonstrates that by working together, we can find a balance between environmental protection and economic development, one that benefits both our air and our quality of life.

If you are a small business owner or member of the public interested in becoming a member of Utah’s Small Business CAP, please contact me at 801-536-4108 or The terms for the two positions for the general public have expired, and several positions for small business representatives will expire soon. We’re looking for new members, and hope you will consider applying to serve on the panel.
If you represent a small business and would like to participate informally, have an issue you feel would be appropriate for the Small Business CAP to address, or have any other questions or comments, feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.  

I am a Utah native, and I graduated from BYU with a degree in geology. I have had the privilege of serving the people of Utah for the last 24 years as an environmental scientist for the Utah Department of Environmental (DEQ). I spent my first 17 years as an inspector in the Underground Storage Tank Program. Just over seven years ago, I accepted a position in Business Assistance, working in the Office of the Executive Director. I work with businesses in a number of capacities for DEQ, including as the Ombudsman. I’m part of the DEQ Ultimate gang who play Ultimate Frisbee for exercise at lunch. I live in Salt Lake with my husband, Brett, and our two dogs, Frankie and Bernie.

This entry was originally published on October 16th, 2017, updated on October 20th, 2017, and posted in news.

DEQ: Tips for Making Public Comments Count

By Donna Kemp Spangler

A full house at a DEQ public hearing. DEQ encourages the public to participate in the agency’s decision-making process.

I understand people’s frustrations when they take the time to submit a written or verbal public comment on a regulatory proposal and at the end of the process, the final rule or regulation doesn’t seem to reflect their comment. They walk away with a feeling their comment doesn’t really matter.

That’s not entirely true. Public participation is essential to developing more effective rules and regulations. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) depends on it. When drafting a rule, DEQ scientists do their best to base it on science and the law. They reach out to experts, but they also count on the public and others to identify flaws and offer solutions to reach a better outcome: protective, reasonable regulations without unintended consequences.

DEQ’s five divisions rely on their governing boards to enact rules and regulations based on staff recommendations. The Division of Air Quality (DAQ), for instance, is seeking public comment on proposals that streamline the oil-and-gas permitting process. The Air Quality Board has set a public comment period to run from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15, 2017. Public hearings are scheduled for Oct. 19 in Salt Lake City and Oct. 25 in Vernal.

In light of these proposals, I asked Mark Berger, manager of the Air Quality Policy Section, and Joel Karmayzn, an air-quality scientist who drafts many of the air-quality rules, to provide some tips for making effective public comments.

Keys to Effective Public Comments

Comments that provide new information the agency has not yet considered or offer possible solutions to the problem are helpful.

Point out unintended consequences

For instance, DAQ staff recommended exemptions to the recently proposed solvent rule for certain types of consumer products that are environmentally friendly. This recommended change to the proposed rule is based on comments that lowering the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) content requirements in solvents without including exclusions for high-vapor pressure solvents is counter to using environmentally friendly solvents.

Show up with technical expertise

Industrial commenters are able to provide industry specific analytical information that is beyond DAQ’s expertise, thereby helping to refine the rules. For instance, advancements made in aerospace technology and composite materials have made some pollutant categories obsolete.

Point to a solution, rather than just the problem

Although helpful to explain why a rule doesn’t work, it is more helpful to suggest alternatives and substitute language for the requested change. For instance, staff is recommending to the Air Quality Board that the solvent rule exempt solvents used in analytical laboratories after commenters pointed out that those same solvents are required by the Environmental Protection Agency-approved analytical methods.

Common Comment Mistakes

public comment

How to make effective public comments. Click on photo for a larger view

Comments that offer opinions or raise questions unrelated to the proposed rule or permit are not-so-helpful.

Use comments as votes

The public comment process is not a vote – one well-supported comment is often more informative than a hundred emails or form letters that raise the same point. DEQ will not respond to each one, but will note it received the same comment multiple times.

Make comments that are NOT specific to the rulemaking proposal

Read and understand the proposal you are commenting on. For example, if the proposed regulation is reducing VOCs in wood furniture coatings, but the comment is about banning wood smoke, that comment isn’t relevant to the issue at hand, and staff won’t respond to it.

Provide comments beyond the authority of the Air Quality Board

You may have a great suggestion for improving Utah’s air, but it may require Legislative or Governor approval. Understanding the regulatory authority can help support your claims.

Ask questions on a proposed rule rather than offering comments

Questions are welcomed! However, they are not considered comments. If you have one, give the contact person a call. DAQ includes contact information for its rule experts on the public-comment page. Often getting clarification on a question will help you formulate a better comment.

Public participation matters! DEQ welcomes and encourages it. We are committed to using the public notice and comment process to improve the decisions we make. If you have additional questions about the public notice and comment process for a specific proposal, please contact us at (800) 458-0145, or visit our website at Visit our webpage “Making Effective Public Comments to DEQ” for answers to frequently asked questions and additional information on the public comment process.

Donna Spangler I am the Communications Director for DEQ and a former reporter for the Deseret News. I write an occasional blog. You can find me on Twitter @deqdonna.

This entry was originally published on October 10th, 2017, updated on November 17th, 2017, and posted in news.