Dozens of doctors, as part of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, want lawmakers to take immediate action to address the state’s deadly air pollution problem. The group delivered a letter, signed by more than 60 doctors, requesting the governor declare a public health emergency over Utah’s poor air quality:
“[W]e know from thousands of medical studies that people are dying in our community right now because of the air pollution and its role in triggering strokes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, fatal arrhythmias, lung diseases and infections and infant mortality.”
In the meantime, the doctors are advising people to avoid the outdoors — though that may be difficult with tourists attending the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Air pollution has become a deadlier public health issue than high cholesterol. And winter pollution in Utah is a long-standing problem, particularly soot. Right now, Utah ranks among four of the five unhealthiest cities for air quality — although even the poor status quo represents steady progress, thanks to Clean Air Act protections. The Salt Lake Tribune writes, “Older Utahns can tell stories about the soot that their windshield wipers would push away during inversions of that era.”
Clean air protections, such as the EPA’s recently tightened soot standards, are slowly improving Utah’s air quality and protecting millions of lives nationwide.