Utah’s poor air quality shortens life expectancy by 2 years. A new bill could show the true cost

Rep. Stephen Handy filed a bill to allow physicians to list air pollution as a cause, or contributing cause of death. He ran this idea by UPHE several months ago and we endorsed the bill, and we encourage you to ask your legislators to vote for HB109 when the legislative session begins this week.

The intent of the bill is to help gather more data on the true impact of air pollution, raise the profile of the health consequences of air pollution, and hopefully stimulate more serious public policy to address it.

“HB109 was inspired by a 2020 study by researchers from Brigham Young University, the University of Utah and Utah State University. According to that report, air pollution is the cause of between 2,500 and 8,000 premature deaths in Utah each year” says a KSL article about the bill. 

From hundreds of studies, we know that air pollution contributes to four of the five leading causes of death (heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and strokes). A recent Harvard study found that fossil fuel air pollution was responsible for one in five deaths overall. That of course doesn’t fully account for all sources of air pollution, like wildfire smoke and wood burning, which produce pollution even more toxic than fossil fuel combustion emissions.

Read the KSL article on the bill here.