Michael Allred was one of the many state employees participating in the state’s surge teleworking. He said it is nice to see this step forward in making Utah’s air cleaner.
“During the school year, there are days my kids can’t go out and play at recess because the air quality is bad,” he said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided data that showed in 2020, Salt Lake County saw a significant increase in the number of good air quality days and a decrease in a number of bad air quality days.
According to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), vehicles are the largest component of air pollution.
“We can see a very good correlation between less driving and better air quality,” said Bryce Bird, the DEQ’s director of air quality.
Mottishaw said the concept of “mandatory action days” is to be proactive, rather than reactive.
“We are actually not triggering our ‘surge telework days’ -- when the air quality is bad — we are actually trying to trigger when we think the air quality could get bad,” he said.
“If we can avoid driving, if we can make smart choices about heating our homes and using consumer products and be careful with fire, that’s how we’re going to really improve air quality,” said Bird.
It is going to take more people staying off the roads to fully tackle Utah’s air quality issues. The hope is, Mottishaw said, that private companies will follow suit and surge telework days will reach beyond state employees. Some private companies have already reached out for more information, he said.
Sydney Glenn is a multimedia journalist for FOX13 News in Salt Lake City. This story is part of the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous reporting about responses to social problems. It originally appeared online here.