2018 State of the Air Report: American Lung Association

Media Coverage:


For Immediate Release                                                  April 18, 2018


Denni Cawley –  Executive Director, UPHE, 385-707-3677, dcawleyuphe@gmail.com

Dr. Brian Moench – Board President, UPHE, 801-243-9089, drmoench@yahoo.com

Dr. Richard Kanner – Board Member of UPHE (Pulmonologist), 801-913-9759, richard.kanner@hsc.utah.edu

Utah Doctors Support American Lung Association’s Call for the 
EPA to Sustain and Enforce Air Quality Safeguards

(April 18, 2018 – Salt Lake City, UT) – The American Lung Association (ALA) released yesterday their 2018 “State of the Air” report that found nearly 4 in 10 people in the country reside where air quality is harmful and “even lethal”.  The report took data from various federal, state, city and tribal sources. The Salt Lake-Provo-Orem area ranked 18th among cities in the United States for ozone pollution, a rise from 20th last year.  Salt Lake City and Logan saw improvements in the ranking for short-term small particulate pollution with the former moving from #7 to #8 and the latter from #8 to #11. 

UPHE Board President, Dr. Brian Moench observes how, “The report shows a mixed bag.  Our particulate pollution has been a little better, but our ozone has been worse.  But we are worried that both will become worse because of political trends in Washington.  UPHE adds our support to the warnings from the ALA.  Many of the recent actions of the EPA will increase air pollution on the Wasatch Front.   The public and our Congressional delegation must demand that the EPA protect the Clean Air Act, the Clean Power Plan, the restraints on fugitive emissions from the oil and gas industry, the fuel efficiency standards for vehicles, and the scientific experts and research used historically by the EPA.”
“In terms of fine particulate matter, we are hanging in there, but it will take tough decisions to ensure that our state attains federal air quality standards given pressures such as an increase in population, along with more housing and vehicle emissions,” says UPHE Executive Director, Denni Cawley. “If we look at the potential inland port development, cities and citizens most affected need to have a say on how this development will happen. Staying around the same rank in the ALA report may seem like a good thing, but let us not forget that it still equates to increases in many serious illnesses and premature deaths every year.”
Last year a study was published that linked chronic and acute exposure of ground level ozone during pregnancy to an increased risk of stillbirth.  While just last week, a study by local researchers that tracked 100,000 Utah patients revealed how even small, short-term increase in fine particulate pollution levels in the Wasatch Front can increase childhood lung infections. 
UPHE Board Member, pulmonologist and former Utah Air Quality Board Member, Dr. Richard Kanner notes that, “This also tells us we need to take action with regards to our climate, as further warming will worsen ozone air pollution.  We also need to encourage voters to elect officials who are committed to cleaning up our air problems, regardless of political party.”  

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment was formed in 2007 during one of Utah’s worse inversions.  The organization consists of approximately 400 medical professionals within Utah, and another 4,000 supporting members of the public.  UPHE is dedicated to protecting the health and well-being of the citizens of Utah by promoting science- based health education and interventions that result in progressive and measurable improvements to the environment. UPHE can be found at www.uphe.org or on Facebook.




CONTACT: James Martinez  |  American Lung Association

P: 612-445-2501 C: 312-718-5875
E: James.Martinez@lung.org

New Air Quality Report Finds Salt Lake City’s Ozone Pollution Worsened, Particle Pollution Improved

More work to be done to protect the health of residents from the harms of ozone according to new American Lung Association air quality report.

Editor’s Note: Trend charts and rankings for metropolitan areas and county grades are available at Lung.org/sota (site to go live at 10:01PM)

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (April 18, 2018) – The American Lung Association’s 2018 “State of the Air” report found Salt Lake City ranked as the 18th-most polluted city in the nation for ozone.

“The 2018 ‘State of the Air’ report finds that unhealthful levels of ozone in Salt Lake City put our citizens at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks and greater difficulty breathing for those living with a lung disease like COPD,” said JoAnna Strother, regional director of public policy of theLung Association in Utah. “Across the nation, the report found continued improvement in air quality, but still, more than four in 10 Americans – 133.9 million – live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution, where their health is at risk.”

The trends reported in this year’s report, which covers data collected by states, cities, counties, tribes and federal agencies in 2014-2016, reflect the ongoing challenges to reduce each pollutant in the changing political and outdoor climate.

“We can and should do more to save lives,” Strother said. “The Lung Association in Utah calls on our members of Congress to defend the Clean Air Act, currently under threat from those who want to weaken this effective public health law. We also call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement and enforce the law instead of trying to roll back major safeguards like the Clean Power Plan and cleaner cars, both steps that help us fight climate change and reduce air pollution.”

Each year the “State of the Air” provides a report card on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution, also known as smog, and particle pollution, also called soot. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.

Ozone Pollution in Salt Lake City

Compared to the 2017 report, Salt Lake City experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report.

“Ozone especially harms children, older adults and those with asthma and other lung diseases,” said Strother.. “When older adults or children with asthma breathe ozone-polluted air, too often they end up in the doctor’s office, the hospital or the emergency room. Ozone can even shorten life itself.”

This report documents how warmer temperatures brought by climate change make ozone more likely to form and harder to clean up. This year’s report showed that ozone levels increased in most cities nationwide, in large part due to warmer temperatures in 2016, the second hottest year on record in the U.S. Over the past decades, ozone pollution has decreased nationwide because the nation has cleaned up major sources of the emissions that create ozone, especially coal-fired power plants and vehicles.

Particle Pollution in Salt Lake City

The 2018 report also found year-round particle pollution levels slightly lower than the 2017 report. Nationwide, the best progress in this year’s report came in reducing year-round levels of particle pollution.

“Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices. These particles are so small that they can lodge deep in the lungs and trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes, and can even be lethal,” said Strother. “Year-round particle pollution levels have dropped thanks to the cleanup of coal-fired power plants and the retirement of old, dirty diesel engines.”

“State of the Air” 2018 also tracked short-term spikes in particle pollution, as these can be extremely dangerous and even lethal. The report found that Salt Lake City has fewer days when short-term particle pollution has reached unhealthy levels in 2014-2016. This marks an improvement since the last report’s record a trend toward fewer short-term spikes in particle pollution in Salt Lake City.

While the report examined data from 2014-2016, this 19th annual report provides online information on air pollution trends back to the first report covering 1996-1998. Learn more about Salt Lake City rankings, as well as air quality across Utah and the nation, in the 2018 “State of the Air” report at Lung.org/sota. For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health and healthy air, and threats to air quality, contact James Martinez at James.Martinez@lung.org or 312-445-2501.


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy.The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the BetterBusiness Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:  Lung.org.

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