Escaping the pollution

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Much of the advice surrounding how to avoid air pollution revolves around staying inside. Air quality is a serious concern, even in indoor spaces however. 

Daniel Mendoza, a researcher at the University of Utah, studies air quality in indoor spaces. “Since we spend about 90% of our time indoors, it is paramount for us to really be most concerned about the pollution exposure that we receive while we’re inside a building,” Mendoza said in a KSL article. This is a point UPHE has raised concerning schools. His team’s research confirmed what other researchers suspected – students do worse on standardized tests after an air quality event. 

“Within 30 minutes of breathing levels of diesel exhaust consistent with what children may breathe in an old bus on the way to school, EEG tests show abnormal brain wave activity of inflammation and general cortical stress, which reduces learning capability. Other studies show directly that air pollution inhaled in the morning, on the way to school, can affect a child’s ability to learn that same day in the classroom,” UPHE founder and board president Dr. Brian Moench previously wrote in an op-ed regarding education impacts of poor air quality. 

“He estimated the economic impact of air pollution on school children in the Salt Lake City School District — accounting for families taking time off from work to watch students who aren’t at school due to poor air quality and the administrative costs that schools spend on students — totals $452,000 every year,” the KSL article reports. 

According to the research, a major concern for harmful particles getting inside comes from increasing wildfire smoke. About 20% of PM 2.5 pollution from winter inversion makes it inside, but about 80% from wildfires does. We know that there is no safe level of air pollution.

One of the main recommendations to mitigate the harmful effects of air pollution indoors is air filters. UPHE has been working on an amazing program with the Department of Health and Human Services that does exactly that! Through the program, air filters are free to schools. 

Find out more about the air purifier program here.

Find the quoted KSL articles here:

Trying to escape air pollution? Here’s how you can do more than just stay inside

Researchers say air pollution is getting inside, recommend MERV 13