Another winter day in Utah, and another “Level Orange” air pollution alert over the Salt Lake Valley. For most, it’s annoying. For others, like six year old Noah Reed, it’s life threatening.
“Two to three pumps, with six breath in between, and then you have to wait two minutes.”
Noah’s mother, Lori, explains her son’s morning routine.
“He’s six. He doesn’t have time for that. He wants to put on his shoes and go to school.”
This effervescently energetic boy loves basketball and soccer. He also has an orange belt in karate, not to mention a mean round-house kick. But most days during the Winter, this busy little boy has to stay inside.
“He does a lot of coloring,” Lori says, “a lot of video games, works on his homework, and watches Netflix. He would love to be on his bike, but those times are limited to ten or fifteen minute blocks when the weather looks to be OK.”
On this day, it did not look to be OK. The inversion had set in. Her son seemed to be doing well enough, but she was reminded of what happened on Christmas eve.
“My husband had taken him the pediatrician,” Lori said, visibly upset, even as she recounted the story. “And while he was at the pediatrician’s office, they checked his oxygen level. I think it was 76. And they called an ambulance. He needed oxygen STAT.”
Noah was hospitalized for three days, forced to breath through a respirator mask.
Lori Reed is a Utah native who married and moved away. And when she came back, she found things had changed.
“We were gone for twelve years, and I had heard that over the years the weather had gotten worse and the air quality had really taken a toll on a lot of kids.”
Intermountain Medical Center Pulmonologist, Dr. Denitza Blagev confirms to ABC4.com the Reed family is not alone in their concerns about Utah’s bad air.
“Whenever we have pollution that’s at this level,” she says, “I really worry about my patients.”
Dr. Blagev says asthmatics like Noah are not the only people at risk.
“Even on these orange days or really any days, air pollution is bad for all of us. Even though you don’t feel it when you go outside, and you’re not the one that’s struggling to breathe, it doesn’t mean its good for you to breathe it.”
At the age of six, Noah Reed knows what a nebulizer is, and how to self administer a dose of albuterol sulphate, so he can breathe, and stay alive and kicking.