What’s behind the Great Salt Lake’s air problems?

Jul 6, 2023, 2:00 PM

Local researchers are trying to figure out whether U.S. Magnesium's refinery or the Great Salt Lake...

FILE -- The Salt Lake City skyline rises above a receding Great Salt Lake as pictured from Antelope Island on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

(Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Local researchers are trying to figure out whether it’s the U.S. Magnesium refinery or the lake itself that’s causing some of the Great Salt Lake’s air problems.

Chlorine and bromine are two chemicals that accelerate Utah’s air pollution. And researchers with the University of Utah, Utah State, and Brigham Young University are trying to figure out where they’re coming from.

KSL TV reported that the researchers are working with Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality to take readings from all over the Great Salt Lake.

In January of this year, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration published a study claiming U.S. Magnesium could be responsible for up to one-quarter of the nasty air we breathe during the winter. Additionally, Gov. Spencer Cox said in a press release in February he wanted U.S. Magnesium added to a list of polluters in Utah’s Northern Wasatch Front ozone nonattainment area.

Cox said this would allow the Utah Division of Air Quality to address the area’s pollution problems.

U.S. Magnesium plans to challenge the NOAA study. They maintain emissions stay the same whether their plant is running or not. The company tells KSL NewsRadio studies done by the Utah Division of Air Quality show no correlation between their halogen emissions and those found in the air within the Salt Lake area.

The researchers will examine air pollution and its correlation with the chemicals in the Great Salt Lake next year, and compare the results. 



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What’s behind the Great Salt Lake’s air problems?