It happens in Utah every year in the winter – inversion.
Even though it only affects Utah a few months every year, what does this mean for your health?
The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment said it’s estimated that Utah’s winter inversion is actually stealing 2 years of your life away, and enough is enough.
“Even brief episodes of pollution can have significant consequences and they can be irreversible consequences and lifelong,” explained Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
In Utah, the mountains create a bowl effect, trapping in cold air and pollution in the valleys – PM2.5, which is made up of soot, dust and vehicle emissions.
Last year alone, dozens of new studies show the air pollution isn’t just affecting your lungs. Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment released a report highlighting dozens of new studies from 2016 that show alarming consequences from air pollution.
One of the major concerns — the impact of inversion during pregnancy.
“The end result can be pregnancy complications, but it can also be fetal development problems that set up a person for a lifelong increased vulnerability to chronic diseases,” Dr. Moench explained.
Even more alarming, recent research suggests that the inversion pollution can actually impact a developing baby before the mother is even pregnant. Dr. Moench explains that studies show air pollution can impact as far as back 3 months prior to conception.
Other studies have also focused on the impact air pollution has on your brain too. One such study researched the autopsies of patients ranging from 3 to 92-years-old, and found alarming results.
“The brains of all these patients have these tiny magnitude particles that are found in air pollution,” Dr. Moench said. “We know that those particles are associated with neurodegenerative diseases and…early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s.”
Dr. Moench says on bad air days, you can stay indoors, but that the pollution still creeps inside.
An air filter can help make the difference, but long term he says, Utah needs to change its ways.
“If we could… get rid of all wood burning in homes and in restaurants, that would probably make the biggest different in overall air pollution,” Dr. Moench said.
These Utah doctors hope lawmakers in the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session, will enact new laws to ultimately save lives.
“The air pollution that we all experience along the Wasatch Front, shortens the average person’s life span by 2 years. What’s 2 years of your life worth to you?” Dr. Moench said.
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment are organizing a Clean Air Rally on January 21 at 1 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol.