Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Air Quality Resources Can Help Utahns Make Good Health Decisions on Poor Air Quality Days

(Salt Lake City, Utah) – In the midst Utah’s winter inversion season, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) wants to remind Utah residents of several resources they can use to help protect their health during times of poor air quality.

The Department’s Environmental Epidemiology Program maintains a web site with must-read air quality information. Along with air quality conditions that are updated hourly and forecasts supplied by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), visitors can find out how the most common air pollutants affect health, as well as actions that can reduce exposure to harmful air and minimize its adverse health effects. Additionally, the site provides a storehouse of links to the most informative Utah-specific and national air quality resources. 

“We believe people with good information make good choices about their health,” said UDOH environmental toxicologist Craig Dietrich. “We want Utahns to know there is a wealth of high-quality, unbiased information at their fingertips.”

The Department’s MotherToBaby Utah program is a valuable resource for women who are pregnant, thinking about becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding. The program is staffed by trained professionals who can answer questions and provide advice to women who have concerns over how air quality may affect their pregnancy. MotherToBaby Utah is a free service and can be accessed by calling 800-822-2229.

The Department’s Asthma Program offers several resources for adults and children with asthma to help control their symptoms on poor air quality days. The program provides daily recess guidance to schools throughout the state to help determine when students should be kept indoors for recess on poor air quality days.

The Asthma Program also offers air quality flags to help raise awareness about daily air quality conditions. Schools and local organizations can contact the Utah Asthma Program for a free flag kit (limited supply) that corresponds to the Air Quality Index and each day raise a flag that matches current air quality conditions.

People with asthma can also download a symptom-tracking sheet to help them determine at what air quality levels they experience more severe symptoms.

“We know poor air quality has an adverse effect on people’s health,” said Brittany Guerra from the UDOH Asthma Program. “However, everyone is impacted differently, so when people have a better feel for what level of air quality exacerbates their symptoms they can better manage their asthma.”

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Media Contact:
Craig Dietrich, Ph.D., DABT
Utah Department of Health