The Salt Lake Valley and surrounding areas are currently immersed in a terrible inversion, something that people like me who grew up in Salt Lake are just “used to”. We shouldn’t be, and we shouldn’t put up with it anymore. The bad air is caused by people so if someone is going to change things it has to be us! As an athlete, someone who loves the natural world, and most importantly someone who loves my family and friends, the air quality is always on my mind. I know I am causing real damage by doing any physical activity below about 8,000 ft. right now. My grandmother, who is delicately hanging on to life right now, is suffering immensely with air in the “red” category. With her fragile lungs and weak immune system folks like her are hit the hardest when the air gets bad. Reviewing the trend-chart from http://www.airquality.utah.gov/ it appears that we we hit 75 ug/m3 of PM-2.5. The NAAQS threshold is 35 ug/m3. (update: on Jan 21st, 2008 Utah County his 133 ug/m3! Utah made national headlines and had the “worst air in the country)
So, what can we do? Well, first we must educate ourselves about it. Denial does nothing but hurt us. Start off by reading this fact sheet. Next watch this (and this) from C. Arden Pope, BYU economics professor who is one of the world’s leading experts on the health effects of air pollution. Check out this article from the BYU Magazine as well as Pope’s wikipedia entry. Arden Pope often makes reference to Brigham Young, one time president of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint , who said that, “the single most valuable physical asset we have here in Utah is clean air”. Brigham also said that, “good pure air is the greatest sustainer of animal life and we should cherish it.”
Just yesterday a great article was written by Dr. Brian Moench, a Salt Lake physician and president of the nonprofit group Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. Additional worthy reading is this article about how our dirty air relates to dirty power. Also, the following slides, which were put together by the Health Science Campaign for Sustainable Energy on windpower are worth reviewing.
Data on the medical side-effects of air pollution is astounding and we should no longer just take it. We have to change things! We shouldn’t simply accept the fact that so many people around us have asthma and that every day more and more cancers are proving to be pollution related. This pollution is a bi-product of our lifestyles and our way of life. Watch the “Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard for an interesting high-level overview of the topic.
Consider the following when you ask yourself how you might be able to help change things.
- Ride your bike! (although the air’s so bad right now I’m not sure this is a good idea)
- Ride the Bus
- Convert your house to solar
- Build your own Zero Emissions Vehicle
- Drive a “Partial Zero Emission Vehical”
- Don’t drive diesel!
- Commute on an electric motorcycle
- Become carbon neutral through the U of U
- Buy local! (read Bill McKibbens book “Deep Economy“)
Be part of the change. If you found this page useful, PLEASE pass it along.
- Outdoor Air Pollution in Utah : Protecting your Health –
- Air Pollution, Cardiovascular Disease and Pulmonary Dysfunction A Critical Issue for Utah Physicians
- Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Incidence of Cardiovascular Events in Women – The New England Journal of Medicine
- Class : Human Health and the Environment – University of Utah