SALT LAKE CITY — Even though summer has yet to make its official debut — that's Friday — Wasatch Front high temperatures are hovering in the 90s, leading to a voluntary action day Tuesday to combat rising levels of ozone.
The warning for Salt Lake, Davis, Weber and Cache counties came a day in advance of the fifth annual Clear the Air Challenge, which kicks off Wednesday at the west entrance of the Gallivan Plaza in downtown Salt Lake City.
This year's goals for the challenge are the elimination of 300,000 vehicle trips to save 2 million vehicle miles traveled and getting 10,000 people to take the pledge.
And video clips are a part of the effort to inspire Utahns about making changes.
Earlier this month, the Utah Transit Authority with support from Zions Bank offered 2,500 "Ride Clear" passes, which feature free fare on all UTA buses, TRAX and FrontRunner for seven days in July.
Wednesday's event will include remarks from Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker, as well as Mike Allegra from the Utah Transit Authority.
The spring season has already had voluntary action days for reducing ozone as the pollutants have started to increase, including Monday and earlier in the month on June 9.
The Utah Division of Air Quality has launched a campaign to make Utah residents more aware of what causes the summer-time smog — pollutants from exhaust and industry interacting with sun and heat and getting trapped on the valley floor.
Its campaign featured a make-it-yourself ozone video contest which asked participants to show how ozone is produced, how it can be prevented and how it impacts health.
More than 500 people scored their favorites from the five finalists selected.
Jason Girouard of Brimfield, Mass. won first for capturing the many things people can do to prevent ozone in: “Let’s Conserve Energy.”
Girouard found out about Utah’s contest through onlinevideocontest.com.
“I realized that this contest was perfect for me,” he said. “I love to not only inform the people of Utah and any other states that happen to see this about ozone issues, but also about how they can help. … I look forward to working with DEQ to make my video public and seen across Utah; together I think we can make a difference."
Travis Thurston of Bountiful came in second place but his two boys won the hearts of many for: “We Like Clean Air.”
Jordan Kocherhans of Highland was third with an entertaining look at how we don’t have to go to extremes to prevent ozone in: “Alternate Transportation.”
The top winners all received cash prizes. The division will use the videos in its campaign to educate people about ozone.
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