Dr. Liz Joy, Medical Director for Community Health at Intermountain Healthcare and UCAIR Board Member, joined us to educate us on the health impacts of poor air quality in Utah and what we can do to protect ourselves.

Poor air quality is unhealthy for everyone. We know that there is a relationship between air quality and asthma, heart disease and stroke. Air pollution has also been linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes including lower birth weight babies and higher rates of miscarriage, said Dr. Joy.

During inversions, the primary pollutant of concern is PM2.5. These tiny particles can pass through the nose and throat, lodge deeply in the lungs, and pass across the lungs into the vascular system (in the heart and brain, and placenta).

These particles are like sandpaper on our airways and blood vessels, causing inflammation and swelling in airways and blood vessels, which in turn have an adverse affect on health.

Children are also at greater risk of adverse health consequences from air pollution as they breathe faster than adults, and tend to spend more time outdoors than adults, so they are at risk for greater exposure.

Here is what you can do to empower yourself and/or family:

  • You can check air quality on the EPA’s airnow.gov app or download the free UtahAir app
  • On yellow and orange air quality days, there are a number of things people can do to protect their health and the health of their families.
  • Talk to your child’s doctor to determine if your child is sensitive to poor air quality
  • Exercise early in the morning when pollution levels are lower or at a higher altitude above the pollution.
  • Consider indoor exercise when air quality is poor
  • Turn off your engine rather than idling, especially at the drive-thru or when picking up kids at school – turn the key, be idle free!
  • Try transit or car pool
  • See if your employer allows for “work at home” when air quality is poor to reduce the number of cars on the road and subsequent tail pipe emissions
  • Shovel snow instead of using a snow blower

Dr. Joy reminds us, “we are making progress toward better air but we all have a responsibility for better air. A responsibility for ourselves and for our loved ones. If we will all make just two or three small changes, we can help improve our air quality.”

Visit UCAIR.org for other easy and inexpensive ideas that you can do today that will make a difference in our air tomorrow.

This story includes sponsored content.