Something funky is going on in Eastern Utah. And it has many scientists scratching their heads trying to figure out what in the world is going happening. In the winter, especially Utah, you expect to find some of the cleanest air where only a few people live and you’re surrounded by basins and snow-capped mountains. It’s also an area that like Oklahoma has plenty of energy drilling ( such as natural gas and oil).
But, just last month, recent ozone reports indicated that the amount of ozone present in The Unitah Basin was nearing 140 ppb. OK, I know that means nothing to you. In other words, the EPA’s standard is 75 ppb which is what many large cities experience during the peak of the summer when ozone alert is usually at it’s worse. That’s right, cities that have millions of people in it have cleaner air than an area that has just a few people per square mile. So, what in the world is going on here?
Scientists are puzzled and aren’t sure either. Are these pollutants coming from something that existed long before the oil and natural gas fields were started? It’s been stated that the gas and oil drilling itself is not the cause for the extremely high ozone. Does it have to deal with the snow and how the sun and snow interact? There are many questions to be asked here but what we do know is that amounts of ozone at this level can lead to many type of respiratory effects and damage to crops and plants. NOAA has a field of instruments surveying the area. Check back as we watch this story closely. Because it if’s happening in Utah, it could very well happen right here in Oklahoma.