The Westsiders of the Salt Lake Valley bear the brunt of our bad air. As we will tell their stories like never before.

Reaching for Air will delve deeper into pollution and its impact on residents.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) A plane flies into Salt Lake City International Airport in February 2022 as inversion conditions settle down in the valley.

The west side of the Salt Lake Valley has a lot to offer: a rich heritage, diverse population, tasty ethnic restaurants, thriving industries, proud neighborhoods and more.

Unfortunately, it also has the worst air in the state.

Salt Lake County received an F when rated by the American Lung Association for high ozone days, and air quality monitors often show that the western side has some of the worst hot spots.

The west side’s smog problems are compounded by a legacy of redlining that relegated a disproportionate presence of polluting industries to this part of the valley.

Many Westsiders have a complex relationship with the air they breathe. With a looming inland port expected to attract more truck and car traffic along with the expansion of highways, the health disparities afflicting communities may become even more dangerous.

The west side already has the worst asthma burden in Utah, increased serious health problems and a lower life expectancy compared to the east bank.

The Salt Lake Tribune and KUER want to hear these stories from the hardest-hit residents — like those in West Valley City, Taylorsville, Magna, Kearns, West Jordan and the west side of the capital.

The goal is to collect 100 first-person air pollution audio stories to combine with data for a Reaching for Air project. This multimedia piece is funded by the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, a collaboration between the Stanford University School of Engineering and the Columbia Journalism School.

If you live on the west side, take a minute to fill out this short survey. Your information helps us get to your neighborhood and hear your stories.

Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America Corps member and writes for The Salt Lake Tribune on the status of communities on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley. Your donation of our RFA grant helps her write stories like this; Please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here. The Westsiders of the Salt Lake Valley bear the brunt of our bad air. As we will tell their stories like never before.

Justin Scacco

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