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,

Dr. Brian Moench – President, UPHE, 801-243-9089,


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). (

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). (

Another relevant article:

Increased air pollution cuts victims’ lifespan by a decade, costing billions ( 


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