The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Environmental Justice Fund announced it is providing $120,000 to Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment for a local partnership to improve air quality in Summit County, Utah. The bulk of the money will go to a program intended to reduce exposure to wood smoke pollution, by helping low and moderate-income residents obtain sources of heat cleaner and healthier than wood-burning stoves.  In addition, the grant will help fund an education and awareness campaign for underserved populations to address the health effects of wood smoke.  Project partners include the Summit County Health Department, Habitat for Humanity of Summit & Wasatch Counties, and PurpleAir.

Jonny Vasic, Executive Director for Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment notes, “Wood smoke is one of the most toxic types of pollution the average person ever inhales, and a major source of overall pollution in Utah. This is an exciting partnership that will help educate the community about the adverse health effects of wood smoke and improve the health of numerous families and the community at large.  UPHE thanks the EPA for their help in improving Utah’s air quality.”

“This grant provides us the opportunity to improve air quality in Summit County and allows the residents to be a part of this proactive effort,” said Philip Bondurant, Summit County Health Department Environmental Health Director. “We’re not only making a difference today but responsibly preparing for the future as well.”

The funding is provided through EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) program, which supports local organizations in their efforts to develop and implement community-driven solutions that address environmental and public health disparities in minority, low-income, tribal and indigenous populations. The ten community projects were selected from 72 applications.

“EPA continues to support locally-driven efforts to address air quality challenges in Utah’s communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento. “We are pleased to support this voluntary partnership, which will help lower and middle-income households reduce harmful particulate emissions and improve public health in Summit County.”

“Habitat for Humanity of Summit & Wasatch Counties is thrilled to expand our repair program in a way that not only benefits the health and safety of individual homeowners but makes an environmental impact in our community,” said Shellie Barrus, Executive Director Habitat for Humanity of Summit & Wasatch Counties.