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DEQ works on plan to clean up Cache Valley air

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality says a southeast Idaho valley has unacceptable unhealthy air and has a plan to help people in Cache Valley breathe a little easier.

Rural Cache Valley isn’t really the place you might expect to find polluted air, but DEQ said it comes down to the lay of the land.

The high altitude valley surrounded by mountains traps pollution in the air during the winter.

“The topography and the meteorological conditions totally lend themselves that when we have an inversion set up and there’s no end in sight for that inversion to lift, those pollutants just constantly mix,” DEQ Airshed Coordinator Melissa Gibbs said.

Over a number of years the area failed air quality standards and so the DEQ is tasked with coming up with a plan to clean up the air.

Gibbs said it’s a serious issue with serious implications for health.

“Those small particles can become lodged in deep parts of your lungs and are very difficult to expel. There are some particles so small that they can be absorbed into the bloodstream,” Gibbs said.

But not everyone is convinced there is much to worry about, some locals said the air quality results taken from just one monitor in the county don’t sound right.

“Granted I don’t have respiratory issues that I would be sensitive to it. But honestly no, I feel the air here is just fine,” Preston City Councilman Todd Thomas said.

Thursday night the DEQ met with Cache Valley locals to answer questions and take comments on the proposed plan.

The DEQ suggests local communities regulate wood burning stoves, and to reduce dust, cut back on sanding icy winter roads.

“Then the alternative is what, salt? Salt will kill roadside vegetation, possible roadside wildlife, damage roads, damage cars, and it’s more expensive,” Thomas said.

The Idaho Dept. of Environmental quality is taking comments on the air quality plan until 5 p.m. on the DEQ website.

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