We created a data visualization that compares pollution levels in each county as a percentage of published EPA standards for the big six pollutants (carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particulates 2.5 and 10, and sulfur dioxide).
It’s interesting to spot potential hazards and issues in air quality. Salt Lake County, which is close to us, is kind of interesting. As you can see below, Salt Lake County is quite high in particulate matter, exceeding EPA standards by quite a bit. There are likely many reasons for this (surrounding mountains, wind blowing desert dust and sand from the west) but it is difficult not to point some blame to the Bingham Canyon Mine run by Kennecott Utah Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto.
Recently, lawsuits have been filed blaming the mine and operations occurring there for a good portion of the particulate matter pollution experienced by Salt Lake County and, according to a 1994 plan adopted by the US EPA, Kennecott should be limited to hauling 150 million tons of ore out of the mine per year, but Utah has twice allowed Kennecott to exceed that limit – to 260 million tons – without any EPA involvement, even though Utah sought the EPA’s input.
As the finger pointing continues, we citizens continue to suffer nasty inversions and pollution. Here are some links with more information about the particulate matter issue in Salt Lake County: