Inversion conditions in Utah worse than ever; area hospitals see spike in patients

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SALT LAKE CITY -- There's never been an inversion quite like this one, according to one University of Utah researcher.

"It's the worst inversion I've ever seen in the middle of February," said Professor Erik Crosman of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences with the University of Utah.

Crosman has been studying Utah inversions for the last ten years. He said this one is the perfect storm as it's unseasonably warm in the mountains and cold in the valley.

"So that combination, basically it's a lid, warm air rises, cold air sinks, and you can't get any of our cold polluted air out of our basins," Crosman said.

These gray skies have had a direct impact on hospitals and urgent cares, which have seen a 30 percent increase in patients during the last few days.

"Cough, shortness of breath, bronchitis, wheezing, that kind of thing," said Dr. Denitza Blogev of Intermountain Medical Center.

She said children, seniors and people with respiratory problems are most vulnerable. However, over time, everyone who goes out in this haze is jeopardizing their long-term health.

"People who live in high air pollution areas and have higher air pollution exposure have a higher risk of developing asthma, developing chronic lung disease, actually have heart attacks and increased risk of dying," Blogev said.

Keira Young has lived in Utah most of her life. She visited an urgent care on Friday for what she thought was an ear infection.

"It just hurts, it itches, and I came here to see what was the matter with it and hopefully they can fix it," Young said.

Her doctor said the pain is being caused by the inversion.

"That was amazing, that's what the doctor said: that this has been going on, a lot of people have been having this problem," Young said. "I never thought about that being the cause of the problem, I've never had a problem before."

Intermountain Medical Center said the best way to avoid getting sick is to stay in doors as much as possible. For instance, instead of exercising outside, they say try to do it indoors.

13 comments

  • Utah Valley Permaculture Classroom Gardens & Greenhouse

    My experience getting on I-15 from Orem to Murray to takw my pets for their shots yesterday at 1pm on a Saturday which I thought would be smooth sailing with inversion fog and smog was less than what I expected. 45 minutes from 1600 N to AF Pioneer Crossing exit parking lot gave me Asthma atrack and chestpains as I begged wvery driver on far right to allow me off freeway on right shoulder or I would need an ambulance, but the selfish and noncompassionate reaction I got as a dizen drivers waiting to get off fwy at horrible accident shutdown of fwy shocked me as tgey blocked me w their cars.

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  • laytonian

    Why bother reporting this? Utahns don’t care!
    They’ll keep voting for the party that ignores the problem, gives breaks to the polluters, refuses Medicaid expansion and kills people.

    • bob

      Cars are trucks are an order of magnitude cleaner than they were just a decade ago. The “major industrial polluters” aren’t a problem. Kennecott’s smelter, for example, is one of the cleanest in the world.

      The problem is geography and population. You can’t change the first one, but you can change second one by leaving.

      When are you leaving?

    • bob

      I’ll ask you the same question I ask every liberal: How do you plan to pay for your expanded government programs?

      The national debt has doubled in 7 years. The Federal government keeps setting new records for tax collection, yet continues to run trillion dollar deficits. And the deficit is now about the same as the ENTIRE Pentagon budget, which means we could cut the entire Defense budget to ZERO and still run a deficit just paying for interest on the debt and for entitlements.

      So I ask again: How do you plan to pay for it?

      • Erik

        Economics or the Environment? No EXCUSES. We continually do things and get further and further in debt so why not keep doing it and actually protect the health and well being of everyone? Your argument is lame. It’s like choosing not to go to college because you’re scared of how you’ll pay for it right now.

      • Erik

        Oh and Bob go ahead and keep ignoring the health effects that even you are suffering and also keep telling yourself that things like gas are renewable resources.

      • Erik

        Bob, yall republicans love saying Obama sucked and blablabla but what exactly did Bush do that was positive again? You’re the same people saying the economy sucking was Obama’s fault…guess who got them in that situation in the first place? People like myself aren’t affiliated with the republican or democrat party…we go off of the best candidate. Unfortunately all republicans this year like most year try to vote and get our national parks/wilderness areas privatized and just want to support non renewable resources and expand expand and expand. That’s why most of us nonaffiliates end up voting democrat.

  • Jackie

    Come to coal country where you can actually breathe…clean air, blue skies. Just remember all of you environmentalists that blame coal fired coal plants for the problem , we are breathing good down here…

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