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High school students weigh in on Utah's bad air

High school students weigh in on Utah's bad air

(KUTV) The Department of Environmental Quality declared Wednesday a "red air day" in Salt Lake County, meaning the pollution is high and there are restrictions in place for burning and industry.

While the Wasatch Front was experiencing perhaps the worst air of the year, students at Highland High School were learning about the inversion, air pollution and what they can do about it.

Representatives from Breathe Utah were holding the event. They say young people are becoming increasingly aware of the problem and more worried about the air we breathe.

"I've lived here all my life and I just kind of know that it's gotten worst the past couple years," said one student, a high school freshman.

"I know that its very harmful for us to breathe," said Madison Gonzales, another freshman student. "It causes a lot of harmful diseases, especially lung disease."

"On days like this we try not to go anywhere. We try not to walk anywhere. We just try to stay inside," said Hannah Christensen, also a freshman.

Ashley Miller is the program director for Breathe Utah, she said they're targeting young people, because they have a lot of influence over their peers and can help persuade their parents and relatives to take steps to reduce emissions.

"Kids, without sounding too cliche, are the future and these are going to be the people that are voting in the coming years and they will be the ones driving more," said Miller.

Data from Envision Utah suggests emissions from vehicles contributes 48 percent of our bad air, followed by home and business emissions that contribute 39 percent and industry and manufacturing which is blamed for 13 percent of Utah's bad air during an inversion.

"If you're in a drive-thru, turn off your car. It actually wastes more gas to idle for ten seconds than to turn off your vehicle and restart it," said Miller, who adds that we can also help by dropping our thermostat a few degrees on bad air days. "We don't see the emissions coming out of our homes unless we're burning wood, but what you can't see is your appliances."

Of course, we could also take some advice from a high school freshman, "I feel like we should just take the bus. If there's an offer of transportation, you should just take it," said Christensen.

Follow Chris Miller on Twitter @ChrisMillerKUTV for breaking news, updates and more.

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