September 23, 2022

Fox 13 News: All of northern Utah at risk for toxic dust from shrinking Great Salt Lake, scientist tells lawmakers

By: Ben Winslow

Posted at 10:12 PM, Sep 20, 2022 and last updated 8:54 AM, Sep 21, 2022

Click here to read the full story on the Fox 13 News website.

SALT LAKE CITY  — All of northern Utah faces risk from dust storms laced with arsenic and other chemicals from a shrinking Great Salt Lake, a scientist warned a panel of lawmakers on Tuesday night.

"The dust is dangerous regardless of what it’s made out of if the concentrations are high enough," said Dr. Kevin Perry, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Utah.

Dr. Perry has been researching the dust generated by the increasingly exposed lake bed. He met with the Utah State Legislature's bipartisan Clean Air Caucus, which is looking into bills dealing with air quality as a result of the dramatically declining Great Salt Lake.

More than 800 miles of lake bed is now exposed as a result of the lake's record low. Research has shown it has arsenic, lithium, copper and other metals in it that are naturally occurring in portions of the lake. Where water has kept it covered, that is no longer the case and dust storms are increasingly blowing it into areas around northern Utah. Regardless, there are risks of PM10 and PM2.5 particulates from the Great Salt Lake.

"The concentrations that are coming off the lake have, on occasion, violated the national ambient air quality standards," Dr. Perry said. "Which means they will have an immediate and acute health impact."

Click here to read the full story on the Fox 13 News website.