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A dustier West faces questions on air quality

DENVER — Oh say, can you see across the Grand Canyon? Not as well as you used to on some days.

The question of how clean the air is in the American West has never been an easy one to answer, strange to say. And now scientists say it is getting harder, with implications that ripple out in surprising ways, from the kitchen faucets of Los Angeles to public-health clinics in canyon-land Utah to the economics of tourism.


And scientists say they are also understanding for the first time the deep connections between the dust's main source — a vast high-desert region called the Colorado Plateau, which stretches through four states and is home to national parks like the Grand Canyon and Arches — and the economic, environmental and demographic life in cities and suburbs far removed.

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