As poor air quality comes to Northern Utah, doctor discusses how pollution affects residents and their health

(KSTU) -- Air quality in Northern Utah reached orange level Friday, meaning it’s unhealthy for sensitive groups with asthma, lung or heart conditions to be outside.

Dr. Brian Moench, president of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, said though bad air quality is a huge issue for those with pre-existing conditions, everyone should be concerned.

“Everybody is a 'sensitive person,' because we all have the same sort of susceptibility to all these problems that everyone else does,” said Moench.

Inhaling bad Utah air could make it hard to breathe, make your eyes sting, or even give you a little chest pain, but Moench said the bad air also raises your blood pressure.

“If you increase their blood pressure just a little bit, you can see now that people are on the verge of having a stroke or a heart attack, this may tip them over,” said Moench.

For children out at recess, Moench said the air quality could impair their ability to perform at their best levels.

“There’s studies that show that the air pollution that children breathe on the way to school that day impair their ability to learn in school,” he said.

Fox 13 reached out to the Granite School District about how they deal with air quality and their students. The district released the following statement:

“Principals in Granite School District adhere to the health department guidelines with respect to air quality. As such, with today’s conditions, some students with health issues may have been restricted to indoor recess.

“It is important to understand that schools are reliant on parents to inform them of medical conditions their child may have. This ensures that the appropriate restrictions are put in place and protects those children who may be impacted by poor air quality issues.

“Any parent can request restrictions for their child as they see fit and Granite School District will honor those wishes."

Moench said that breathing in the bad air isn’t just something that’s happening during winter time in Utah.

“This summer, as people who live here can verify, we didn’t have a single 24-hour period of clean air from the first week of June to the middle of September because of regional wildfires,” said Moench. “We can no longer think of this as a temporary problem, it’s a year round problem.”

Below are a few ways Utahns can help reduce the impact poor air quality has on them:

  • Stay indoors on bad air days
  • Exercise indoors
  • Use electronic air filters in your furnaces
  • Lower your home temperatures to minimize using your furnace
  • Don’t use woodburning stoves