Inversion season, COVID-19 a potentially deadly mix

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) — Inversion season is starting as COVID-19 continues to worsen in Utah.

The air pollution could intensify symptoms of those diagnosed with the viral illness, according to health professionals.

Dr. Denitza Blagev, Intermountain Healthcare pulmonary physician, said N-95 masks and respiratory masks protect from both COVID-19 and air pollutants. Cloth and cotton masks are not as effective.

“We can always all do our part, but at the end of the day, we need mother nature to help us,” said ABC 4’s Chief Meteorologist Alana Brophy.

Brophy said Utah’s air pollution is in the hands of mother nature. She controls inversion season. Dry, stagnant air creates a hazy stinky mess, but when there is wind or an active storm pattern, air pollution is lessened. 

“With air pollution generally, we want to spend time indoors because indoor air tends to be cleaner than outdoor air,” said Blagev.

The outdoor air during inversion season is causing issues for those with COVID-19 and pre-existing lung issues like COPD.

“Air pollution increases the risk of getting viral infections,” said Blagev.

Inversion season begins during the winter months and with COVID-19 sticking around, the air pollutants that are 1/3rd the size of a red blood cell can enter through cloth masks.

“It’s those tiny tiny particulate those PM2.5’s that are smaller than the thickness of human hair that when you breathe them in, they flow freely through the mask and into the lungs and into the bloodstream,” said Blagev.

Brophy said the inversion season is heightened by the mountains. 

“So we know that right now we are dealing with moderate air quality but with snow on the ground that can even worsen and we can see tougher air quality conditions as a result,” said Brophy. JB

Wednesday and the coming days are looking to be hazy, but by the end of the week, there should be some relief in sight.

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