Thursday, February 19, 2015

Air Pollution: A Call to Action

Health Risks Associated with Air Pollution

Utah’s got a new silent killer in town named “air pollution”. The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment sates that, “Air pollution provokes a systemic inflammatory process centered in the vascular network that delivers blood through the body, including all major organs.”  When this happens, the effects can be just as damaging as inhaling cigarette smoke.  Last spring, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that air pollution is responsible for an average of 7 million premature deaths annually worldwide.  These deaths were associated with various diseases caused by exposure to air pollution which include: heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and respiratory infections.  Dr. Maria Neira, the director of WHO’s Department of Public Health, responded to the findings with a call to action, stating that “few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

The Utah Clean Cities Coalition is dedicated to doing just that: taking action against some of the biggest air pollutant offenders.  The Utah Division of Air Quality reports that over 50 percent of Utah’s air pollution comes from mobile sources. From promoting alternative fuels to striving for an idle free state, Utah is on its way to becoming a little cleaner each day. 

Alternative fuels, as defined by the Energy Policy Act of 1992, are biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, and propane.  These are great for our environment because they can burn up to 90 percent cleaner than traditional petroleum fuels.  New technology helps vehicles to utilize these cleaner burning fuels.  Flex Fuel, Hybrid, and EVs are just a few of the many types of cars you can drive while contributing to fewer greenhouse gas emissions. 

Alternative Fuel vehicles are the number one way to reduce your vehicle emissions. However, there are plenty of things you can start doing today to help us reach our goal of cleaner air.  Turning your car off instead of idling, proper car maintenance, and carpooling or taking transit are all great ways you can reduce your emissions daily.  When you opt to bike or walk instead of driving, your vehicle emissions are cut to zero! Take advantage of nice weather by avoiding your car and getting outside instead.  Working together as a community, we can all improve Utah’s air quality for a healthier tomorrow. 

Check out for more information on alternative fuels and tips on how to reduce vehicle emissions.

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