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Advancing Utah's Energy Future

Utah’s Next Clean Air Challenge? Homes and Businesses

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The search for solutions to Utah’s winter pollution episodes has focused on industrial smokestacks and the tailpipes of cars and trucks. But homes and businesses represent a big and growing part of the problem. They’re called “area sources” and KUER wanted to find out why it’s so hard to cut their emissions.

Nasty paint and solvent fumes used to be the norm for Anthony Gallegos here at ACS Precision Auto Body in Salt Lake City.

“We had a solvent-based paint system,” says Gallegos, who manages the shop.

Then, in 2014, Utah regulators followed California’s lead and required body shops to switch to paints and coatings that are water based or lower in solvents. Now Gallegos uses new coatings, sprayers and drying equipment.

“Water-based is the newest product that they have that is completely compliant with any kind of emissions,” he says, “so we opted to go primarily with water-based.”

Gallegos won’t clean up Utah’s winter air singlehandedly. His shop is among hundreds of thousands of homes and business buildings in northern Utah that add to pollution.

These “area sources,” as they’re called, collectively produce about 39 percent of the emissions that turn the valleys’ air brown for weeks at a time. The Utah Division of Air Quality estimates that’s around 125 tons of pollutants each day.

“All you’ve got to do is look outside. Personally, right now, I can taste the air. And something’s got to be done. It’s terrible out there, you know.” (…)

For more, visit KUER.