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Firefighters from multiple states fight to contain the fires throughout the valley . The Pole Creek fire has burned over 100,000 acres and is currently 65 percent contained and the Bald Mountain fire has burned over 18,000acres and is currently 76 percent contained. The smoke from these fires has caused hazardous conditions in air quality and students on campus say it’s causing severe breathing problems.
Alexis Jensen a freshman studying biology says it’s hard to walk to class with the current poor air quality because of her asthma. “It feels like a terrible burning in my chest.” Jensen said.
Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that 3.7 million people per year die from the effects of air pollution.
Due to the poor air quality affecting individuals on campus, UVU now has started providing masks for students, which can be picked up at Campus Connection free of cost.
Tori , a senior studying biology education, expressed that she doesn’t think UVU is doing enough for students suffering from breathing issues aggravated by the fires.
“Smoking is allowed way too close to the buildings for one and when the smoke from the fires was so bad and unhealthy for people who aren’t respiratory-sensitive that they needed to provide OSHA masks, they should have shut down the school,” said Tori who preferred not to use her last name. “I’m in the highly sensitive category, so I wound up missing multiple classes because it was painful to breathe on campus.”
The UVU Center for Sustainability has released a list of common air quality myths to try to better educate students on causes, and what they can do to help.
Since UVU has no on-campus housing, most UVU students commute. The pollution from all the cars in the the over crowded parking lots also pose a real problem and add to the poor quality of air
To combat this, UVU has partnered with the Utah Transit Authority to provide students with free UTA transit passes. UVU hopes that when students take the public transit system it can dramatically improve the Utah Valley pollution problem.
Another solution to the air quality issue is the increase of electric car charging stations on campus that are no cost to students and the public.
According to a statement on the UVU Center for Sustainability website, “UVU provides these to demonstrate our commitment to improving air quality along the Wasatch Front.”
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