UPHE Op Ed in the D. News on chemical safety at the refineries

Recently, UPHE’s senior policy analyst and researcher, Malin Moench testified at an EPA hearing against a proposed roll back of chemical safety rules at hundreds of refineries and chemical plants throughout the country.  Hundreds of thousands of residents of the Wasatch Front are at risk if a catastrophic accident or earth quake were to allow the release of toxic chemicals, like hydrofluoric acid, from any of the  refineries on Refinery Row.   The Deseret News published our Op Ed on that testimony.

UPHE Op Ed in High Country News

The mining industry is trying to exploit the current anti-environmental atmosphere in Congress and the White House and are pushing for federal rule making that would give them expedited approval for new mining projects. Several mining watch dogs groups asked UPHE to write an Op Ed in opposition to this highly inappropriate, sweet deal for the mining industry.  That Op Ed appeared recently in High Country News.

UPHE Statement on Inland Port


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

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


Utah Physicians’ Statement on the Development of an Inland Port

In support of the community press conference today:

Date: May 23, 2018

Time: 9:30 am

Location: Corner of 500 South and Main Street

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) stands together with community representatives today to fulfill our mission of protecting the health and well-being of Utahns.  We are here to encourage public engagement in discussions over the development of the Inland Port.  This is not only an issue that involves the communities adjacent to the proposed port.  This involves communities from the north to the south of the Wasatch Front.  We are here to safeguard the hard-fought victories by communities, clean air advocates, and state and city level agencies to reduce air pollution and protect our families’ health.  These wins will be clouded by significantly higher vehicle and in particular, cancer-causing diesel pollution that an inland port would bring in.

Just in the last two months key research and reports have highlighted Utah’s high lung cancer rates and that even small increases in pollution heightens the risk of lung infections for children.  We are also in an area that ranks 8th in the country for short-term small particulate pollution and 18th for ozone.

Our state is barely meeting federal standards, while research already shows that pollution levels lower than federal standards cause increased mortality and stillbirth rates.  This calls for a careful thought process and stakeholder engagement in any large development project. However, from the way the inland port authority bill was pushed forward behind closed doors, and in the wee hours of the legislative session, it is clear that multi-stakeholder engagement is not a priority of those who should be the champions of good governance.

We do not see any way this will project not bring a significant increase in Salt Lake Valley air pollution, freeway grid lock, and pressure for ever more freeway construction. Has there been adequate research and discussion on the environmental and health effects of an inland port before any bill was drafted?  Will the community be assured that all fleets that enter/exit the area would be low emission vehicles? Will added traffic compete with much-needed smart development and infrastructure for cycling, walking, and public transport?  How will the port affect communities who are already struggling with higher levels of pollution in their microenvironments, those who work late in the night and need to endure noise and light pollution?

The effects of air pollution are a somber litany to recite: premature deaths, strokes, heart attacks, brain disease and dysfunction, decreased lung function, cancer, still births, pregnancy complications, impaired fetal development and shortened life expectancy.

One life lost is not just a statistic.  Neither is a hundred and definitely not a thousand.  And we are already losing over a thousand lives a year to air pollution. We ask our leaders to create a transparent process and decision-making structure on the port that values Utahns’ health, environment and voice.  Utah residents want and deserve a clean air, clean energy, and a clean future.



For immediate release:
May 22, 2018

For information:
Deeda Seed, Center for Biological Diversity
(801) 803-9892

Dorothy Owen, Westpointe Community Council
(801) 503-7850


Community members, air quality and conservation groups respond to
Envision Utah panel on the Inland Port
Planned Inland Port Development creates huge air quality, governance and conservation concerns

Utah leaders extolling the virtues of the inland port proposed for Salt Lake City’s northwest quadrant need to answer some hard questions about what the port will do to our air quality, and how it will impact fragile wildlife habitat next to Great Salt Lake.

At a news conference Wednesday, at 9:30 am on the south-east corner of 500 South and Main Street after Envision Utah’s panel on the Inland Port, members of the Community Coalition for Port Reform will outline their concerns.

The proposed inland port is in an area already out of compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards and an increase in transport activities will increase fine particulate matter pollution as well as volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides that form harmful ozone.

“Salt Lake City is the top 8th city in terms of short-term small particulate pollution in the country – and we know with recent medical research that this is linked to childhood lung infections, stroke, heart attacks and whole list of medical conditions.  A large project like the inland port can tip the already precarious situation that our city is in,” says Denni Cawley, Executive Director of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.  She adds, “We are barely reaching federal standards, while research already shows that pollution levels lower than federal standards cause increased mortality and stillbirth rates.  This calls for a careful thought process and stakeholder engagement in any large development. But the way the inland port authority bill was pushed forward it is clear that multi-stakeholder engagement beyond industry is not a priority.”

The air quality and other environmental health impacts will be felt most acutely by people in communities closest to the port, all of whom have been disenfranchised by the legislature’s creation of an unelected, and therefore potentially unaccountable “port authority”.

“Today we came to understand the best and worst-case scenarios for a Utah Inland Port, potentially the State’s largest economic development effort,” said Dorothy Owen, chair of the Westpointe Community Council.   “What we now know is the recently enacted law directing this development creates the foundation for the worst-case scenario.  Why?  Because it ignores our most basic civic values; giving tremendous power to another unelected, unaccountable board to control the most basic health, safety, land use and taxation concerns of local communities.  The law specifically eliminated the responsibility ‘to mitigate any negative impacts’ and to ‘to promote a high quality of life.’ This is NOT just another partisan political fight between government entities.  Rather it is a struggle to maintain the community values and life-style we cherish in fashioning the future.”

In addition to the tremendous harm to human health, the port will also be a disaster for wildlife and the millions of migratory birds that depend on Great Salt Lake.

“The inland port as it is currently envisioned, would be built right next to the fragile wetlands, mudflats and playas of Great Salt Lake’s south shore. Millions of long-distance migrating birds rely on this habitat every year, some for nesting, others for resting and staging before they make their way to their final destinations,” said Heather Dove, President of Great Salt Lake Audubon.  “This specialized habitat is one of the things that makes Great Salt Lake an important international conservation priority. The inland port will no doubt be run as a 24/7 operation and in its current version, will inflict tremendous noise pollution, light pollution, air pollution and collision hazards from tall structures to these migrating birds.  We believe that the environmental community needs to be included as a partner at the table to minimize where possible the destructive practices that have been envisioned for this enormous industrial project.”

“The public is not being told that Port development presents grave risks to our communities, our health and our environment, nor how project enthusiasts intend to develop this project without turning the Northwest Quadrant of Salt Lake City into an industrialized environmental sacrifice zone” said Steve Erickson, Policy Advocate for the Utah Audubon Council.

“The process to date has been far from open and inclusive, mostly an insiders’ game conducted behind closed doors.  We believe that the best way to prevent this Inland Port development from creating an environmental nightmare is to assure that it is done collaboratively, with openness and transparency, sound science and planning, consultation with stakeholders, and public participation.  Utah citizens deserve no less,” Erickson said.



Utah Audobon statement on the Inland Port

UPHE’s Op Ed in the Deseret News warning against an inland port

Is the price we will have to pay to make SLC an inland port worth it?  Massive increase in truck traffic, more congested freeways, more diesel emissions, more air pollution, an influx of more people in an already crowded valley desperate for clean air and whose water resources are diminishing rapidly?   Plans for our economic future must be consistent with the carrying capacity of where we live.  Cancer is the only thing that can grow indefinitely, and we all know how that ends.



Earth Day K-2 Clean Air Assembly

St. John the Baptist Catholic Elementary School Celebrates Earth Day with K – 2 Clean Air Assembly
Mayor Troy Walker to kick-off event for an idle-free campus on Monday, April 23

(April 22, 2018 – Draper, UT) – To celebrate Earth Day, St. John the Baptist (SJB) Catholic Elementary School (part of Juan Diego Catholic Schools) is holding a Clean Air Assembly for their Kindergarten to 2nd grade students on Monday, April 23, 2:00 – 2:40 pm.  Draper City Mayor Troy Walker is expected to attend with a member of the City Council.  This event was organized by the SJB Parents for Clean Air together with supporting organizations who will be represented at the assembly: Utah Clean Cities, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Breathe Utah, and UCAIR.

After the assembly, participants will distribute idle-free handouts to parents during pick-up time at 3 pm.

Since early this year, SJB Parents for Clean Air with the support of SJB Elementary School Principal Nikki Ward have been encouraging parents to not idle their vehicles, particularly during drop-off and pick-up times when pollution hotspots are created.  These hotspots are particularly harmful for young children.  Air quality and health information has also been included in weekly newsletters to parents

According to Principal Nikki Ward, “All of us breathe the same air, and it will take every citizen to improve the air quality.  Each of us needs to think about how we can positively impact Utah’s air quality.”

The School will also hold a poster-making contest for students to show their commitment to caring for the Earth and keeping Utah’s air clean. One poster from each grade level will be chosen to receive an air filtration mask from O2TODAY.   The top 2 posters will be made into banners for the school by Utah Clean Cities.

UPHE and AIR Partnership!


We receive a lot of questions on air filters for homes, so UPHE is happy to announce our partnership with a new Utah-based company called Air! Air provides air filters delivered at your door exactly when you need to change it. It’s a great reminder that it’s time to change your air filters and saves you time and money. The type of filter and frequency will also depend on the context of your home situation and they have the expertise on this (ex. Do you have pets? Special health needs?).

Use the Promo Code “UPHE AIR” at checkout and get your first filter for free AND they will also donate $10 to UPHE for each subscription to help the work that we do. Try them for free and if you do not see a difference in your indoor air quality you can cancel at any time at no cost.

Go to: Rememberair.com/

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.

New Report on Health Impact of Fracking

“In a 266 page report, two physicians groups, Concerned Health Professionals of New York and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning group, Physicians for Social Responsibility, demonstrate that fracking is indisputably a serious health hazard, causing asthma, birth defects and cancer….”  See full RollingStone article.  (Photo above from RollingStone.com)

Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking – Fifth Edition

UPHE and partners bring 260 refugee students to the movie Black Panther


UPHE’s Lead Safe Outreach Program and our University of Utah Partners Sponsor Black Panther Movie Viewing for Refugee Students of Salt Lake County



March 13, 2018


Aaron Samudio – Lead Outreach Manager, UPHE, (801) 717-8441asamudiouphe@gmail.com

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


Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Time: Attendees arrive at 3:30 pm, program and movie begin at 3:50 pm

Location: Century 16, Salt Lake – Cinemark

125 East 3300 South

Salt Lake City, Utah 84115


Note for media: Please arrive by 3:20 and contact UPHE reps above if you would like to interview a student and staff member of the Utah International Charter School and/or a representative of UPHE at the event location.   Filming is not allowed within the theater as per Cinemark policy.

(March 13, 2018 – Salt Lake City) – Around 260 refugee students from Salt Lake County have been invited to watch the movie Black Panther as part of the national #BlackPantherChallenge.  Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) organized the event that highlights the non-profit’s Lead Safe Outreach Program, with the support of the University of Utah’s Office for Equity and Diversity , the David Eccles School of Business, the Black Student Union, and close to 50 individual donors of a GoFundMe page created for the event.

Most of the students and staff attending will be from the Utah International Charter School.  See this video to learn about this amazing transformative institution.  Students from the University of Utah’s REFUGES Bridge Program will also be participating.  Through this movie, the organizers hope that experiencing the amazing black leaders of Wakanda, like the compassionate and thoughtful T’Challa, or the inventive and intelligent Shuri, will both inspire and empower these young individuals.


This event is part of UPHE’s Lead Safe Outreach Program.  The organization gave interactive educational presentations to the students of the Utah International Charter School, which will help them understand how to protect themselves and their families from lead poisoning.  UPHE also shared information on how families can qualify for free home remediation services through the Lead Safe Housing Program of Salt Lake County.

Lead is a neurotoxin.  Even at small amounts, it can cause irreversible brain damage leading to lower IQ and behavior problems. However, lead poisoning is highly preventable especially from sources at home.  We hope to reach vulnerable communities and families through several initiatives, and by educating the youth to reach their parents.

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment 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, measurable improvements to the environment.

UPHE Statement on NW Quadrant Development

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment’s Statement on SB 234 and the Development of the Northwest Quadrant

In support of the community press conference today:

Date: Sunday, March 4, 2018

Time: 1:00 pm

Location: Utah State Capitol Rotunda

For years so much effort has been spent by the community, clean air advocates, state and local agencies and some of our state leaders to improve air quality and attain federal standards, particularly at the Wasatch Front. We would have thought by now that further development of any area in our region, would include purposeful consideration and strategic inclusion of community, environmental and health concerns.

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) stands together with community representatives here today and we would like to see decisions made on the development of the Northwest Quadrant to incorporate the views reflected by stakeholders who worked on the Northwest Quadrant Master Plan.  We would also like to see environmental and health views properly represented in any decision-making and planning body on the development of the area.

Future economic growth of the Salt Lake Valley can head in one of two directions: clean, high tech, or old school, dirty industry.  We can pursue an “inland silicon valley” future or a Pittsburgh of the 1940s future.  We are concerned about the interests behind creating a port authority that in the end would be a shortcut to increasing coal, oil and gas operations that would worsen our air quality.  Everyone understands that Wasatch Front air pollution is a serious health hazard, with communities in the west side of Salt Lake bearing the brunt of air pollution.  New diesel emissions, from additional truck and train traffic, and more congested freeways, is exactly the kind of development that will further degrade our air quality.

Medical research has shown that levels of air pollution lower than federal standards cause pregnancy complications and shorten lives.  Utah residents want clean air, clean energy, and a clean future.  Will the new infrastructure support or undermine the long-term climate considerations for Utah, the West and the country, and all our collective need to commit to renewable energy? There is nothing wrong with economic development, if it is done with community and environmental health as a foundation for decision-making.

2017 UPHE Air Pollution and Health Research Report

Click here for full report and references: 2017 Air Pollution and Health Research Report UPHE



Air…Our Voice: 

A Joint Launch of UPHE’s 2017 Air Pollution and Health Research Report &

“Breathing Stories” Chapbook by Torrey House Press

Citizens, health professionals and scientists are coming together to voice their concern and 

share through stories how Utah’s air quality affects their families and lives at a very personal level. 


Date: Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018

Time: 10:30 – 11:30 am

Location: Utah State Capitol Rotunda (indoor main level)

Open to the public 

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/196041017645447/ 

(February 2, 2018 – Salt Lake City) – Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE), Torrey House Press (THP) and the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club invited members of the media and the public to “Air…Our Voice” – a press conference featuring the launch of UPHE’s 2017 Air Pollution and Health Research Report and a public reading by authors of chapters from Breathing Stories: Utah Voices for Clean Air by Torrey House Press.  Personal stories and scientific research are compelling testaments to the serious health consequences of air pollution, even at levels below federal standards. Citizens, health professionals and scientists are coming together to voice their concern and share through stories how Utah’s air quality affects their families and lives at a very personal level.

“Our legislators know that folks are concerned about air quality and suffering health effects, but as citizens, we’re frustrated that our leaders haven’t managed to reach across their political divides to create policy that would protect the air we breathe,” said  Kirsten Johanna Allen, Publisher & Editorial Director of Torrey House Press “The contributors to Breathing Stories: Utah Voices for Clean Air bring personal story to the conversation, and I hope legislators will be moved by their beautiful, powerful words.”

Dr. Brian Moench, UPHE Founder and Board Director and the participating physicians bring the scientific perspective to complement the personal stories. According to Dr. Moench, “The medical research from 2017 added over 100 new studies to what is now several thousand published papers, establishing the science on just how serious the health hazard of air pollution is to Utah communities.  Our patients need and deserve clean air.  We hope that combining the science with these compelling personal stories will prompt real action, and real solutions by our lawmakers.”

“We know that there are communities who are exposed to higher levels of pollution and who may not have the adequate medical or financial support to protect their families from the harmful micro-environment that they are in,” said UPHE Executive Director, Denni Cawley. “There are solutions, but it needs the combined effort of the community with strong political will from our leaders.  As we grow Utah, let’s not leave others behind.”

This event is also supported by HEAL Utah and SLC Air Protectors.

Expected Program (subject to change):

10:30 – 10:35 am         Welcome by Denni Cawley, UPHE Executive Director

10:35 – 10:40 am         Reading by Gracie Larsen, 5th Grade Student

10:40 – 10:55 am         2018 Air Pollution & Health Research Presentation

Dr. Brian Moench

Dr. Courtney Henley

Dr. Matthew Peterson

Dr. Nathan Dean

10:55 – 11:00 am         Reading by Lauren Wilder of “The Right Story”

11:00 – 11:05 am         Reading by Dr. Kirtly Parker Jones of “I Am a Radon Daughter”

11:05 – 11:10 am         Reading by Dr. Daniel Mendoza of “Living in Utah Changed My Life”

11:10 – 11:15 am         Closing by Brooke Larsen/Kirsten Allen, Torrey House Press

11:15 – 11:30 am         Q&A



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

Brooke Larsen – Environmental Humanities Fellow, Torrey House Press, 801-916-7044brooke@torreyhouse.com

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

Promontory Landfill

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A mere 1000 feet away from the Great Salt Lake there is a proposed landfill owned by Promontory Point Resources LLC. On February 5th, Friends of Great Salt Lake, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, HEAL, Utah Sierra Club, and the League of Women Voters will be holding a public meeting at 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm at the Gore Auditorium of Westminster College. The event will have presentations from local residents as well as speakers from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality who will be explaining the history of the landfill and where we are now. There will also be a Q & A with the department following the presentation. Another public hearing will be held in Elizabeth Hall Auditorium at Weber State University’s campus from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on February 6th.

According to an article published by the Salt Lake Tribune on August 20th 2017 titled “Landfill near the Great Salt Lake could become one of the largest industrial waste repositories” the landfill will have the capacity to hold 385 million tons of waste and will be less than 1,000 feet away from the Great Salt Lake’s shores. This landfill will be a huge hazard to anyone living near the Great Salt Lake as well as an eye sore. A local petition in Promontory has been signed by over 200 individuals and presented to Box Elder County representatives.  

Over the recent months, there has been discussion of changing the classification of the landfill from a class I where the landfill can only accept waste within the state to a class V which will open the door for the landfill to accept waste from out of state. If the landfill is to be upgraded to a class V,  Promontory Point will be able to accept coal ash shipped in by train, which is too hazardous to be stored in California. This coal ash can then contribute to our area’s poor air quality making it worse.

What It’s Like to Raise A Child in the 2nd Most Toxic City in America

Read full article HERE

UPHE Founder, Dr. Brian Moench was interviewed by online national magazine Rantt:

“Exposure to pollutants poses far greater public health consequences than just respiratory illness. The effect on coronary artery disease and the impact on blood vessels that supply the brain that can lead to strokes are often underestimated. Exposure to pollution accelerates the aging process, causing a loss of elasticity in the arteries that contribute to higher blood pressure. The average person on the Wasatch Front probably loses about two years of their life expectancy from our air pollution. But new studies suggest that if a person dies due to an air pollution related cause, on average, they die ten years earlier than they would have otherwise.” 




Utah Doctors Speak Out on Current Air Quality


For Immediate Release                                                               December 13, 2017

Utah Doctors Speak Out on Current Air Quality 


(Dec. 13, 2017 – Salt Lake City, UT) – The Board of Directors of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) is urging the public to stay indoors as much as possible during this long spell of worsening air in the Wasatch Front.   Board Member and pulmonologist, Dr. Robert Paine said, “These intense spikes, even if they are brief, have their own health consequences, some of which can be life altering and permanent.  Acute particulate pollution episodes such as these are responsible for increased rates of heart attacks, sudden death, asthma attacks and pneumonia, in addition to multiple effects in other body systems.”

The medical research has long since debunked the idea that levels of pollution this high are only unhealthy for sensitive groups.  According to Dr. Brian Moench, UPHE Founder and Board President, “This recurring refrain contributes to the dismissive attitude of many, especially some legislators, because most people are not in those sensitive groups.  This helps people write off the issue because they believe it is someone else’s health risk, but not theirs.  Medical research tells us very clearly that even air pollution at very low levels still compromises personal and public health. This effect is magnified in the face of high levels of particulate pollution such as we are now experiencing.”  He adds, “We should be honest with the public.  Some people will die from these levels of air pollution, from heart attacks, strokes, abnormal heart rhythms, pneumonia, miscarriages, birth defects and stillbirths.”   

UPHE Executive Director, Denni Cawley said “We ask schools to keep children indoors.  The new recess guidance by the Utah Asthma Program specifies when ALL children should be indoors.  Given what we know of how levels of pollution below EPA standards can already damage our bodies’ systems, we would advocate for stricter standards. A UNICEF working paper released in November 2017 highlights the body of research that shows air pollution’s negative impact on the developing brain of children.”

UPHE is also concerned about direction that the current U.S. administration and legislators is taking in policies that affect our environment and ultimately our families’ health.  Air pollution on the Wasatch Front is a recurring, genuine health crises, and the direction of the federal government will only make it worse.  The recently passed House and Senate tax bills contain alarming alterations of the tax structure that will paralyze clean energy investments and solidify dependency on dirty energy.  Opening public lands to extractive industries and lessening these companies’ taxes will only add to the air pollution throughout Utah.

UPHE Board Member and emergency room doctor, Howie Garber, MD reiterates that “Numerous studies show that heart attacks and strokes increase on the same day as pollution spikes, some even within a matter of hours.”

UPHE encourages the community to do its part in following mandatory action or no-burn days, not idle their cars, and plan their trips to reduce cold starts in vehicles. Here are other tips:

–       If you have to drive, keep your car on recirculate

–       Stay indoors as much as possible

–       Absolutely do not exercise outside

–       Vacuum out floor registers

–       Keep HEPA filter running day and night

–       Asthmatics should closely monitor peak flow

–       Avoid idling your cars, especially at drive thru locations during red air days (fast food restaurants, holiday light shows)

In early January, UPHE will release its annual End of the Year Report on Air Pollution and Health Research.  Parents, families, communities are asked to speak out to our leaders on how important clean air is for their health.



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

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


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.

UPHE Awarded EPA Environmental Justice Small Grant

We are excited to announce that UPHE has been awarded our first federal grant from the EPA Environmental Justice Small Grants Program to protect children from lead poisoning.  This is especially important after reports on lead being present in the drinking water of more than 200 Utah schools and our state being #3 in the nation for toxic releases. UPHE is co-chair of the Utah Lead Coalition, which is working to identify more children at risk for lead poisoning.

UPHE challenges plans to lease Utah lands for fracking

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SLTRIB Article: Federal oil and gas leases mired in protests over pollution worries for Utah’s Uinta Basin


For Immediate Release, October 2, 2017

Contacts: Diana Dascalu-Joffe, Center for Biological Diversity, (720) 925-2521, ddascalujoffe@biologicaldiversity.org

Dr. Brian Moench, UPHE, (801) 243-9089, drmoench@yahoo.com

Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (202) 495-3051, gabby.brown@sierraclub.org

Trump’s Utah Fracking Plan Challenged as Urgent Public Health Threat

SALT LAKE CITY― Conservation groups today challenged a Bureau of Land Management plan to lease 94,000 acres of public lands for fracking in Utah’s Duchesne, Uintah and Emery counties ― a rural region with air quality as bad as Los Angeles due to decades of fossil fuel development.

The administrative protest details the agency’s failure to address how fracking will worsen pollution and threaten endangered species and public health in the area, as required by federal law.

“The Uintah Basin’s already choking on oil industry pollution, but the Trump administration is ignoring air quality in its rush to frack every square inch of public land,” said Diana Dascalu-Joffe, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This leasing plan disregards grave risks to public health and endangered species in favor of short-term profits for fossil fuel companies.”

Parcels to be auctioned in December are located in and near Utah’s Uintah Basin, where ozone pollution already exceeds federal limits. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to list the region as a non-attainment area this fall, which will require additional steps to control ozone.

Fracking causes most of the basin’s ozone pollution, but the BLM has refused to analyze whether more fracking would exceed federal ozone standards, a requirement under the Clean Air Act. Health studies have linked ozone exposure to still births, premature death and other health problems.

“Air pollution studies have documented what can only be described as a pollution crisis created by the existing oil and gas activity in the Uinta Basin. A pollution crisis will inevitably lead to a public health crisis, and there is preliminary evidence that one may already be occurring with high rates of perinatal deaths in the Uinta Basin,” said Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “The health risks go well beyond ozone and particulate pollution. Although VOCs are not addressed by EPA national standards, they likely represent the greatest toxicity to the population, especially for infants and pregnant mothers. Under these circumstances, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment join many other groups in calling for an immediate suspension of new leasing in the Basin.”

The BLM failed to adequately analyze the greenhouse gas pollution that would result from more fracking or the impacts from that pollution. It also failed to ensure the protection of several endangered species, including the Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker and Mexican spotted owl. The Endangered Species Act requires the agency to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect those species from fracking.

“It is unacceptable that BLM is moving forward with this lease sale, ignoring concerns from Governor Herbert and the public,” said Lena Moffitt, senior director of the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign. “This land has incredible value to its residents and visitors, and allowing drilling to occur here would threaten the area’s precious cultural and natural resources. This decision continues the Trump administration’s attack on our national parks and public lands. Our parks and public lands are for Americans to enjoy and explore, not to be exploited for fossil fuel industry profits.”


Download a copy of the protest here.


Letter to the Clean Air Caucus

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September 19, 2017

Dear Clean Air Caucus Co-Chairs:

We understand that you have invited James Enstrom to speak to the Caucus this evening.  I’m sharing with you a letter signed by the Board of Directors of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment as our organization is deeply concerned about the misleading messages that he will leave the group. His research contradicts the conclusions of numerous other research on air pollution and health.  This is demonstrated in the appendix of studies that we have included in this letter.

I would like to say that I am very proud of the composition of UPHE’s Board. Since I joined UPHE more than a year ago, our Board has developed into a group with decades of medical expertise and who care deeply for the community.  We have two pulmunologists, a cardiologist, an OB-GYN, an anesthesiologist and an ER doctor, not to mention a member of media and a representative from the business sector.  I hope that you would share this letter with your colleagues who are part of the Caucus and take a few moments to read this prior to or after the meeting.

We thank the Clean Air Caucus for all you’ve done to improve our air quality. We believe that you will keep on doing so with the dedication and commitment to stand up and speak out for the health of Utah’s families.


Denni Cawley

Executive Director


UPHE Advisory on Recent Air Quality

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For Immediate Release                                                               September 7, 2017


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

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


UPHE Advisory on Recent Air Quality


Air quality conditions on the Wasatch Front have deteriorated significantly in the last several days.   The pollution in fact may be a worse health hazard than during typical winter inversions because ozone is also elevated which does not typically happen during winter inversions.  The health impact of simultaneously high ozone and high PM2.5 is certainly additive, but it may be synergistic, i.e. have a multiplier effect.


Both PM2.5 and ozone have been shown to cause widespread health consequences, affecting all major organ systems–the heart, blood vessels, lungs, brain and placenta.   Strenuous exercise can increase the inhalation of pollution as much as ten times compared to rest.  The younger the person the more serious the exposure because the biological barriers that exist in the lungs, gastrointestinal tract and the brain are less well developed and therefore less protective.  Grade school and junior high age children are particularly affected by strenuous exercise in these circumstances.


Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) recommend that if current conditions persist, Wasatch children and adolescents not exercise outdoors or engage in athletic activities until conditions improve, especially in the afternoon when the ozone levels are elevated.


30 Utah Businesses Call on the Governor for Stronger Clean Air Policies

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, HEAL Utah and Western Resources support the 30 Utah businesses that are calling for stronger clean air policies.  Thank you to Nazz Kurth, Jon Rockefeller and Annette Lee of Petzl for hosting the press conference and to the following speakers: Lindsey Elliott and Jainee Dial (Wylder), Melanie Webb (Kuhl), and Kelly Lake (LUX Catering), and  Erin Strahm (Leaders for Clean Air).
Press coverage:

Press Conference by Utah Doctors on Recent Studies on Air Pollution and Deaths

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For Immediate Release                                                                           July 11, 2017


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

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


Press Conference by Utah Doctors on Recent Studies on Air Pollution and Deaths

Dr. Brian Moench, Dr. Kirtly Jones, and Dr. Robert Paine of UPHE call for stronger action

 DETAILS: July 12, 2017 – 12:30 PM

Artspace Commons Conference Room at 824 S 400 W, B113, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 – Door on east side of building


Board Members of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) will hold a press conference on the serious implications of recent studies that show levels of pollutants, such as fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone that are well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standards, are strongly associated with increased rates of mortality and stillbirths. The physicians will share information on what the public can do to protect themselves and call on Utah’s leaders take decisive action to protect the public through better policies on vehicle emissions, fireworks, wood burning, buildings and freeway development.  UPHE will also introduce their newest Board Member, Dr. Robert Paine who has just completed his term on the State Air Quality Board.

study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the largest studies of its kind to date involving 61 million people throughout the United States, strengthens the association between premature death and PM2.5 and ozone.  Mortality increased by 7.3% for every 10ug/m3of chronic PM2.5 exposure.  The increase in mortality for ozone is 1.1% for every 10 ppb.  According to UPHE Board President, Dr. Brian Moench, “UPHE has always advocated that there is no safe level of air pollution and EPA standards are inadequate.  We have estimated that between 1,000 and 2,000 people Utah die annually because of our air pollution.  These studies firmly establish the scientific validity of those estimations.”

Another brand-new study showed that chronic and acute ozone exposure the week prior to delivery is associated with the risk of stillbirth.  To quote the study: Overall, the levels of exposure in all time windows were fairly moderate, and when averaged over time did not exceed US ambient air quality standards…Both chronic and acute prenatal exposures to O3 were associated with increased risk of stillbirth.

UPHE has raised concern over high perinatal deaths in Vernal, UT where there is significant pollution from the oil and gas industry in the region and see this as a relevant new study.  “This is the strongest study showing a link to air pollution (ozone) and stillbirth,” says Dr. Kirtly Jones, UPHE Board Member and Professor Emerita in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Utah. “It is time for Utah to do more to decrease air pollution in our communities.”

“This important study on air pollution and mortality adds a new perspective to the air quality discussions in Utah.  Although much of the public focus is on inversions and periods of more intense pollution, this study demonstrates that year-round exposure, even to lower levels of PM2.5 has an important impact on mortality and re-emphasizes the benefits of measures to reduce emissions and improve air quality year round, “ says Dr. Robert Paine, UPHE Board Member and Professor of Internal Medicine and Chief of the Division of Respiratory, Critical Care and Occupational Pulmonary Medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine.  “It also confirms that the entire Medicare-eligible population is a “sensitive group” that experiences important health effects from even lower levels of pollution and that rural individuals have health effects from pollution that are at least as great as those seen in city dwellers.   Decisions to tolerate higher levels of pollution will result in significant adverse effects for health and for health care costs for all of our citizens.”

With several counties in non-attainment of EPA standards, UPHE is compelled to share the implications of these major studies on air pollution and health to better inform our community and leaders so that we act at all levels.



Di, Q. et al. Air Pollution and Mortality in the Medicare Population. New England Journal of Medicine 376,2513–2522 (2017). (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1702747)

Mendola, P. et al. Chronic and Acute Ozone Exposure in the Week Prior to Delivery Is Associated with the Risk of Stillbirth. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14, (2017). (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28684711)

Another relevant article:

Increased air pollution cuts victims’ lifespan by a decade, costing billions (https://phys.org/news/2017-07-air-pollution-victims-lifespan-decade.html)