By Brittany Guerra, Guest Blogger
DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.
Winter months in Utah bring snow sports, holiday feasting, and seasonal inversions. As you’ve watched the mountain line slowly disappear behind a hazy fog of pollution, have you ever wondered what it means for your family’s health, and what you can do about it? If you have, you aren’t alone.
Inversion Pollution and Its Impact on Health
During an inversion, air pollution, including PM 2.5, along with cold air gets trapped in the valley and builds until a storm front blows through.
Due to its small size, PM 2.5 can get deep into the lungs and can lead to a number of health issues, including aggravated asthma. For sensitive groups, including children or those with respiratory or heart conditions, PM 2.5 can have a greater health impact.
A Way to Protect – The Utah Recess Guidance
The Utah Recess Guidance is a set of air quality guidelines for schools to use in determining whether to move recess indoors based off of PM 2.5 levels. In 2016, a group of health scientists, parents, school personnel, and air quality advocacy groups updated the Guidance to be more protective and align with the EPA AQI recommendations.
What You Can Do As a Parent
You know your child’s needs best. Below are five things you can do to keep them safe during this year’s inversion season:
- Become a Guidance expert.
- Talk with your child’s doctor about whether your child is “sensitive” to poor air quality.
- Contact your child’s school to discuss when you want them to stay inside for recess based on their health needs.
- Be aware of current air quality levels. Visit DEQ for hourly PM2.5 levels and the air quality forecast.
- Do your part to reduce vehicle emissions during winter inversion months. Carpool, combine errand runs into one trip, use public transit, and don’t idle in your car longer than 10-30 seconds.