UPHE Press Conference on Air Pollution
On Wednesday, UPHE held a press conference summarizing the most important research on air pollution and health published for the past year, 2019. Read the full report. The Deseret News did a good job of covering the press conference. Below are the highlights from the events and a clip for the Deseret News coverage:
1. Air pollution kills 1,000 to 2,000 Utah residents every year, from at least nine different causes of death. Shortens life span in Utah an average of two years, some as much as five years.
2. Costs to the economy are between $2 billion and $7.4 billion.
3. Because cleaner air has such a profound benefit to brain function, classroom air purifiers are the most cost effective way of improving public education–more cost effective than hiring more teachers to reduce class size 30%.
4. Extremely small increases in ozone damage lung tissue and function as much as smoking does. Just 3 ppb increase in ozone exposure over ten years caused as much lung damage as smoking a pack a day of cigarettes for 29 years.
5. Particulate pollution provokes disease by contaminating all major organs, like the heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, blood vessels, and placenta. For example, between 2 billion and 22 billion nanoparticles have been found embedded in human hearts, per gram of heart tissue, even in asymptomatic young adults, even in children.
6. 99% of air pollution deaths occur where the air pollution meets the EPA’s standards. All air pollution matters.
7. Cleaning up the air has almost immediate health benefits.
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment presented “truly alarming” findings Wednesday regarding the hazards of air pollution and its widespread impact on public health, including heightened coronavirus mortality rates.
Physicians combed through nearly 100 health studies from 2019 to compile an understanding of air pollution’s impacts particularly in Utah, which they delivered at the state Capitol.
According to Dr. Brian Moench, founder and president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, results of several “well-respected studies were truly alarming.” Their results, coupled with the findings of thousands of other studies, make Utah’s air pollution a “public health emergency,” he said.
“Air pollution is the fifth-leading risk factor for death worldwide. It can harm any organ in the body, it can penetrate any cell in the body,” Moench said. “Air pollution is a danger to everyone’s health, but some people are more susceptible than others.” He listed genetics, socioeconomics, race and ethnicity as examples.