Everyone knows that the terrible effects of air pollution on the environment are increasing. Most don’t know that while living in Salt Lake Valley comes with one of the most beautiful mountain views, the air pollution is slowly worsening quality of life for Salt Lake County residents. While environmental causes for illness are common, the World Health Organization has completed studies that show that air pollution has become a leading environmental risk factor for human diseases. It estimates that about one in every eight deaths worldwide can be linked to air pollution.
The Health Effects of Air Pollution in Utah
Air quality in the Salt Lake Valley has actually improved since 1970 when the Clean Air Act was passed; however, thanks to increased public awareness of the effects of air pollution on human health, more individuals are concerned about the environment than ever before. Below is a list of four ways that air pollution has impacted Utah residents.
- Lessening Outdoor Activity
Utah’s pollution problem has been well documented. Back in 2014, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that some public schools had enacted indoor recess policies to protect children from toxic pollutants. Several schools in Salt Lake County are located near transportation corridors with idling cars and trucks, which further compounds the hazards posed by pollution. And while indoor activities can still stimulate advancement in children, physical activity during recess has been supported more and more as a standard.
One of the appealing qualities that Utah offers is increased outdoor recreation. More and more families are postponing physical activity outdoors until they can escape into the mountains on the weekends. For many families, this means more time trapped in smog laden air and less time encouraging physical activity throughout the week.
- An Increase in Asthma Attacks
There is no scientific consensus on safe pollution thresholds, but the connection between chronic asthma and air pollution is indisputable. Research on how lung disease evolves in relation to pollution is ongoing, but multiple studies have shown that increased air pollution significantly raises (in some cases 40%) the chances for asthma attacks and emergency trip visits. In addition to these major problems, poor outdoor air quality can also lead to lingering scratchy throats, red eyes or other cold-like symptoms. Among residents that aren’t affected by asthma, children and the elderly are still especially vulnerable to symptoms from air pollution.
- Increased Respiratory Problems, Decreased Lung Function
Researchers at Brigham Young University have studied the health effects of air pollution over the past few decades and found that it has been a major contributor to a number of premature deaths and hospitalizations related to respiratory issues. Among finding evidence of blood vessel damage and room for increased cardiovascular disease, they also documented overall diminished lung function in Utah’s children. The research led to the implementation of new air quality standards, and although some industrial polluters have disputed the data, similar studies have confirmed a strong correlation between pollution and health complications.
- Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
On top of causing new illnesses, pollution is making it harder to treat existing infectious diseases. According to Medical News Today, the greatest environmental health threat may come from black carbon, or the particulate matter that is produced when fossil fuels are burned. Black carbon can affect bacteria that dwells in the respiratory tract by making them resistant to antibiotics. This could obviously result in a large-scale public health crisis, which is yet another reason we need to reduce our society’s dependency on coal and other detrimental energy sources.
Do Your Part: Go Solar
Home energy consumption is the 2nd leading cause of air pollution in most states. If you’re ready to give up fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy, Go Solar Group can help you make the transition. If your home is already solar equipped, then you can encourage your neighbors to do the same and Go Solar Group will give you a cash bonus. If everyone did their part, we could all breathe a little easier.