‘Bad for everybody’: Utahns asked to limit time outdoors amid poor air quality

Weather

UTAH (ABC4) – If you’ve spent time outside Monday, you may have felt the impact of the poor air quality firsthand. The smoke blowing in from wildfires burning in surrounding states, paired with a heatwave, is making for hazardous conditions across Utah. 

Salt Lake County air mixed into the ‘unhealthy category’ several times Monday afternoon and now, health experts are asking Utahns to limit their time spent outside. They are also asking that you pay attention to any adverse reactions you may have to these dangerous conditions.

During the summer, there are two major types of air pollution that Utahns are faced with. The first is Ozone Pollution and the second is Particulate Matter.   

Utahns are used to hearing about particulate matter during our winter inversion. However, with wildfires raging across the west, it has also become a summer threat.   

Dr. Denitza Blagev is a Pulmonary Physician at Intermountain Healthcare. She said the air pollution is affecting all Utahns right now, not just those with underlying health conditions. 

When particulates enter your lungs, you can feel immediate effects like wheezing, coughing, and difficulty taking deep breaths.

“Beyond the lungs…those really fine particles go beyond the lungs and into the bloodstream. They go all over the body,” Dr. Blagev explains. That is why this pollution poses a huge health risk.        

Dr. Blagev says there is an increased risk of clotting, strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure. 

Air pollution is bad for everybody, so if you’re a young healthy person with no medical problems and you don’t have any symptoms when you breathe… the air pollution is still bad for you. Your risk for premature death or lung cancer or developing lung or heart disease is higher,” Dr. Blagev says.

While children, the elderly population, and anyone with underlying heart or lung disease are especially sensitive to it, anyone who is exposed for an extended period of time is subject to getting sick.  

“There is a lag often between when people get exposed and when we’re seeing them in the hospital, and some of that lag is…you might have the air exposure, you may feel a bit of chest tightness, but it may not be enough to send you to the ER or hospital. There will be some period of days that the exposure builds up enough and you’ve tried the things you’ve done at home to get better and you’re not,” Dr. Blagev tells ABC4.

This is why Utahns are encouraged to take it easy and stay indoors as much as possible, while these conditions persist.

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