Dirty Utah Air Triggers Heart Attacks

November 9th, 2015

Many of the doctors we work with have long suspected it, but now research shows a direct link between bad air and hear attack rates. So, think about the people you know who have suffered heart attacks and think about when those attacks happened. Odds are likley that those heart attacks happened around a yellow or red air day. For more info read the article by Kristen Moulton below.

New Utah research: Bad air can literally cause a heart attack

Salt Lake Tribune
November 9, 2015
by Kristen Moulton

Utahns with heart disease have one more reason to stay inside on bad-air days this winter: Pollution can literally give you a heart attack.

A new study at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that the risk of the most serious kind of heart attack rises after the level of PM2.5 (fine particulate) pollution reaches 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality considers that in the yellow, or “moderate,” range of air pollution.

Such pollution is comprised of fine particles of metals, allergens, organic chemicals, soot and dirt, each measuring about 1/20th the width of a human hair.

For every 10 micrograms above 25 the PM2.5 rate reaches, the risk of a serious heart attack rises by 15 percent, said Kent Meredith, an Intermountain Medical Center cardiologist who reported on the research at the American Heart Association scientific session in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday.

The monitoring station at Hawthorne Elementary in Salt Lake City recorded only 13 days of PM2.5 pollution above 25 micrograms last winter, but 34 days in the noxious winter of 2013-14 and 29 days the winter before that. November sees an occasional bad-air day, but the worst pollution strikes in December, January and February each year.

The findings “pile on” a body of research that links bad air to heart problems, but it zeros in on the kind of heart attack those with heart disease are most likely to suffer during bouts of bad air: deadly.

Such heart attacks are called STEMI, for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. It’s when a coronary artery is totally blocked and a large part of the heart muscle cannot get oxygen.

“These are the types of heart attacks,” Meredith said, “where you literally have minutes to get to the hospital and get those arteries opened.”

The research involved studying the heart attacks of more than 16,000 Wasatch Front patients at LDS Hospital and Intermountain Medical Center between 1993 and 2014. The records are in a database kept by Intermountain’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.

The research, however, found a weak correlation between high air pollution and non-STEMI heart attacks or unstable angina, Meredith said.

People with heart disease are most vulnerable because they have plaque in their artery walls, which becomes inflamed when they breathe polluted air, Meredith said. The plaque becomes unstable, swells and splits, blocking an artery.

“You most often don’t get a warning for these,” he said.

Cardiologist John Ryan at the University of Utah said that breathing in particles also can aggravate asthma or reactive airway disease, which decreases oxygen level and puts a strain on the heart.

“These are important findings that are additive to what we’ve found previously on heart disease and air quality,” Ryan said Friday. “It’s sobering to think a bad-air day could be the cause for a heart attack.”

Many North Americans are unaware they have heart disease, so it’s important to manage the risk factors, including controlling one’s weight, cholesterol and blood pressure, and getting daily exercise, Ryan said.

And on bad-air days, those with heart disease should stay inside, he said. “Families need to know this, too.”

C. Arden Pope, a Brigham Young University epidemiologist involved in the new study, said he used state pollution-monitoring-station data for Utah, Salt Lake and Weber valleys.

That was compared against the heart attacks of 16,314 patients living in those areas.

The research affirmed earlier findings. But, he said, “in this particular case, we have a lot more data over a lot longer period of time.”

Utah Politics and Science Education

November 9th, 2015

Utah Moms for Clean Air just submitted this letter to the Utah State Office of Education regarding sneaky revisions in our kids’ science education that sought to decouple human activity/the burning of fossil fuels with global warming.

P.S. Thank you Climate Parents and Elisabeth Luntz for the heads-up!

Dear Dr. Scott:
Please accept our comments (see below) regarding potential revisions to the Utah science standards for grades 6-8. We hope the Utah Board of Education will make education decisions based solely on science and without deference to politics. Utah can be a leader in the inevitable transition to a low-carbon economy, but it cannot do so if our young people are not presented with all of the facts as well as the big picture as to why this transition is necessary.

Cherise Udell
President, Utah Moms for Clean Air

Dear Utah State Office of Education:

Thank you for your efforts to ensure that Utah students receive a high quality science education. As such, we are generally supportive of the proposed Utah Science with Engineering Education Standards (SEEd) for grades 6-8. However, we do not support the alterations made to climate science standards (6.3.4 and 8.4.4), and urge corrections to fix misleading content before the standards are presented to the Board for approval.

Specifically, we recommend the following:

The proposed 6th grade climate standard, 6.3.4, states: “Construct an explanation supported by evidence for how the natural greenhouse effect maintains Earth’s energy balance and a relatively constant temperature.” Students could easily be led to believe from this standard that global temperatures are not rising, which of course they are. This standard should be amended to have students learn how adding greenhouses gases to the atmosphere from human activities like burning fossil fuels makes the greenhouse effect stronger, upsetting the Earth’s energy balance, trapping more heat and warming the planet. This 2 minute, kid-oriented video shows how it could be done:…/k…/basics/today/greenhouse-effect.html

The proposed 8th grade climate standard, 8.4.4, states: “Analyze and interpret data on the factors that change global temperatures and their effects on regional climates.” This standard should be clarified so that students learn why global temperatures are rising, which the data demonstrate. Using Next Generation Science Standards as a basis, the standard should read: “Analyze and interpret data on the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century, and their effects on regional climates.”

We also suggest that Utah students are made aware of the connection between climate change and Utah air quality since the number one cause of both problems is the burning of fossil fuels. Making this connection is vitally important to connecting the global to the local and local to the global.

Thank you for consideration of these recommendations that are science-based and for putting forth final standards with the best interests of Utah students in mind.

Cherise Udell
President, Utah Moms for Clean Air

An Evening in Paris to Support Our Delegation to the United Nation’s Climate Summit

October 22nd, 2015

Please support the first and only Utah Delegation going to the United Nations Climate Summit in Paris – the Utah Moms for Clean Air Delegation!

The next United Nation’s global climate summit – COP21 – is taking place this winter in Paris (Nov 30th – Dec 11). The number one cause of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels, which is also the number one cause of our air pollution in Utah. Utah Moms for Clean Air firmly believes breathing clean air is the birthright of every child, which is why we are concerned about both local air quality and global climate change. Utah Moms for Clean Air has thus decided to heed the call to “think globally and act locally” by creating the first and only Utah Delegation to the upcoming Climate Summit.

Sixteen students across Utah plus teachers have been invited to join our delegation to Paris and be the voices heard back in Utah. These students will receive professional journalism training (thanks to the SLTribune, ABC and KRCL) before departing for Paris and will use multimedia platforms such as Twitter, Skype, Google Chat, Instagram, etc., to communicate interactively with their schools and communities on a daily basis about what is happening at the Climate Summit. (Can you imagine how engaged those schools will become in the events taking place in Paris if they have their own correspondent reporting live in front of the Eiffel Tower and other iconic locations?)

ABC4 is selecting a few of our students to be junior reporters, reporting live on the events from Paris on the daily news broadcasts. This is not only very exciting, it means we will be bringing the climate conversation into the households of tens of thousands of Utahns.

Furthermore, ABC4 is selecting a few of our students to be junior reporters, reporting live on the events from Paris on the daily news broadcasts. This is not only very exciting, it means we will be bringing the climate conversation into the households of tens of thousands of Utahns.

This is a historic conversation that they otherwise may not be aware of, a conversation that could decide their future – and our aim is to engage students and Utahns about the possibility for positive change. Upon our return, a few of the student journalists and UMFCA volunteers will do community outreach to local schools with the Low Carbon Diet: How to Lose 5000 Pounds in 30 Days project to keep the action and conversation going strong in Utah. Thus, we will be engaging thousands of students at numerous schools, plus teachers and parents, to not only to be thinking about these issues, but to also to take meaningful action in the coming year.

But for all of this to happen we need your support! So, please come enjoy an open bar, yummy eats, music and great conversation along with a raffle and silent auction on October 24th!

We will have beverages provided by 5 Wives Vodka and Wasatch/Squatters as well as hors d’oeuvres. Our silent auction will feature items such as season passes to the Natural History Museum, private golf lessons, a personal trainer, prints from Cat Palmer as well as a photo session, various articles from the Secret Service’s private gift shop and other surprises!

Tickets are $35 each and all proceeds go to the Utah Moms for Clean Air Delegation to Paris.

We look forward to seeing you in Paris, if only for an evening!

Click here for tickets.

Utah Moms for Clean Air Founder Talks About Air, Activism and Climate

October 1st, 2015

HEAL UTAH chats with Cherise Udell, the founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air, about how this powerful local group was founded, where she sees the clean air movement today and her exciting plans to attend this winter’s climate summit in Paris (COP21) with a delegation of student journalists.

Click here to listen to this interesting conversation.

Advocates Propose 4 New Air Quality Rules

September 29th, 2015

At the upcoming Air Quality Board meeting on Oct. 7 HEAL Utah, Physicians For a Healthy Environment, and Western Resource Advocates will propose four new air quality rules for the board to consider.

The first rule changes the way industrial pollution permits calculate emissions. Kids need clean air all day everyday. They can’t rely on air that is clean, more or less, based on a monthly average. Yet currently, the state looks at industrial emissions emitted on a weekly, monthly, or even annual basis. This means industry can effectively exploit the law of averages to emit more than allowed in any given 24-hour period. The first proposal demands that industry comply with the 24-hour emissions standards, thus prohibiting short term spikes in pollution, which are especially damaging during inversion periods.

The second rule closes the “offset” loophole. Because we violate federal clean air standards, our total emissions cannot increase, so when big business demands to expand, they can only do so by offsetting the increase with emissions reductions in other places. Industry, has of course found a loophole. The offset rule doesn’t kick in until the proposed increase is quite high. So, by asking for multiple small expansions, industry can pollute more without having to find reductions. This proposed rule would lower the threshhold at which the state requires offsets.

The third proposed rule increases testing frequency. Pollution permits may look acceptable on paper, but it takes real-world data to verify whether or not the equipment is operating within the bounds of the permit. Currently, the DAQ can only do real-world tests every 3 to 5 years! This proposed rule demands that industry have continuous emissions monitoring wherever feasible. We all have continuous pollution monitoring on our cars, so shouldn’t big industry have it too?

The final rule would requires that all documents relevant to a new permit be made at the start of the comment period, and it requires that public comment periods be extended by request. This would give grassroots advocacy groups more information and in some cases more time to comb through applications. This final proposed rule would strengthen and protect a robust public discourse about what goes into the air we breathe.

All who want to breathe clean air are invited to the Air Quality Board meeting at the Department of Environmental Quality office on Oct. 7 at 1:30 pm.
195 N 1950 W. The green Trax stops only about a block away from the offices.

Utah Moms for Clean Air Sending Delegation to COP21 in Paris

August 25th, 2015

As you may know, the next global climate summit – COP21 – is taking place this winter in Paris (Nov 30th – Dec 11). The number one cause of global warning is the burning of fossil fuels – which is also the number one cause of our air pollution in Utah.

Utah Moms for Clean Air has thus decided to heed the call to represent Utah and mothers fighting for a sustainable clean air future for all children. We submitted a proposal a few weeks ago to be one of the presenters in the official civic society space and we hope to also host an international kid event/workshop such as “How To Make Young Voices Heard” and/or have kids write a song with dozens of international languages being included that could – just maybe – be sung at the convention by the kids to remind delegates why they are doing what they are doing and why it is so important that real action is taken fast.

Furthermore, we are exploring the idea of bringing a couple of kids from Utah to be journalists that can skype back to their schools on a daily basis with reports and images from the climate conference. Can you imagine how engaged those schools will be in the events going on in Paris if they have their own correspondent?!

In addition to sharing what we have learned in Utah, we hope to learn from other cities/nations about how they have successfully addressed air pollution in their communities and bring back that inspiration back to Utah.

Three grizzly bear mamas, Tina Escobar-Taft, Ingrid Karoline Griffee and moi have committed to going to Paris, but we want to open up the invitation to other moms and kids. This will be an extraordinary experience! Email us at supermoms at utahmomsforcleanair dot org if you are interested in more information.


Profits for the few, pollution for the rest.

May 22nd, 2015

One time, a couple years ago, a legislator told me that we could have clean air BUT it was expensive and I needed to understand that more money for clean air meant less money for schools.

Today we have legislators using our tax dollars to claim public lands for leasing to more drilling – again, its either that, or apparently we remain last in the nation in public school spending.

I want to be very, very clear – a mother in 21st century Utah should NOT have to choose between clean air and education.

Faced with this so-called choice, parents are supposed to chant along to “drill, baby, drill,” because, well, we want our babies to go to school and learn, baby, learn.
That’s not a choice. That’s a hostage situation – let us pollute, or there’s not enough money for your schools.

The men wining and dining right now in that dirty energy summit have contrived with our state leadership to sell our children’s future – their health, their education, and their cultural heritage – at bargain bin prices.

30 some years ago, the oil and gas industry negotiated a sweetheart tax deal with Utah, and despite all the rhetoric we hear about the energy boom, those preferential tax rates have not changed. A 2012 report by Headwaters Economics, ranks Utah’s effective tax rate on oil and gas at only 3.3% – the lowest among six other energy producing states in our region – and this on an industry, which in 2013 recorded production sales value at more than 4.6 billion dollars. (I took that number off the website for the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining.)

For comparison, Wyoming charges 11.4%. Montana charges 10.5%.

This is tens of millions of dollars that dirty energy companies walk away with – while our lawmakers tell us that we can’t even afford to upgrade old, polluting school buses.

Our lax environmental regulations, oil and gas drilling, refinery expansion, polluting semi trucks transporting our non-renewable resources through our cities…. these create profit for a few and pollution for the rest of us. These for-profit polluters must start paying the true cost of doing business.

Because the truth is what we really, really cannot afford is to offer big industries discounts paid for with our children’s future. Our kids deserve clean air, the best education, and beautiful vistas – and if these energy executives want to do business in our state – they ought to pay their fair share.

18 Reasons for a Wood-burning Ban in Urban Areas

March 19th, 2015

Below are 18 reasons why wood burning should be banned in urban areas, from Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment:

1. All air pollution is not created equal. Wood smoke is one of the most toxic types of pollution in most cities.

2. Lifetime cancer risk is 12 times greater for wood smoke compared to an equal volume of second hand cigarette smoke.

3. Burning 10 lbs. of wood for one hour, releases as much PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) as 35,000 packs of cigarettes.

4. Toxic free-radical chemicals in wood smoke are biologically active 40 times longer than the free radicals in cigarette smoke.

5. Wood smoke is the third largest source of dioxins, one of the most intensely toxic compounds known to science.

6. The very small size of wood particles make them seven times more likely to be inhaled than other particulate pollution.

7. Wood smoke easily penetrates homes of neighbors creating concentrations up to 88% as high as outdoor air.

8. If you smell wood smoke, you know you are being harmed. The sweet smell comes from deadly compounds like benzene. Once you can smell the smoke you know the concentration of particulate matter is dangerously high.

9. The most dangerous components of air pollution are much higher inside homes that burn wood than non-burners, as much as 500% higher. The characterization of a wood burning ban “punishing the little people” is easily undermined because a ban would actually benefit the burners themselves more than anyone else, especially their own children.

10. Considering the most dangerous part of particulate pollution, wood burning produces as much overall as all our cars during the winter.

11. We require emissions testing of all our cars. Great. An average house heated with wood emits about as much winter time pollution as driving 90 cars all winter, but we don’t emissions test wood stoves. Why not?

12. The inhalable particulate pollution from one woodstove is equivalent to the amount emitted from 3,000 gas furnaces producing the same amount of heat.

13. Emissions from modern combustion appliances for wood logs may increase ten-fold if they are not operated appropriately, and most of them are not.

14. Wood smoke is the only pollution emitted right where people spend most of their time. It disperses poorly, is not evenly distributed and stays in the air longer because of its small size. Concentrations can be 100 times higher for neighbors of wood burners than what is captured at the nearest monitoring station. Real local “pollution victims” are created even when overall community levels are low.

15. If your neighbor is a regular wood burner, and follows all the rules, i.e. doesn’t burn during yellow or red alert days, but does during all “green” days, you can go an entire winter without having one single day of clean air.

16. According to California’s Bay Area Air Quality Management District, burning wood costs the rest of the community, primarily your next door neighbors, at least $2 in extra medical expenses for every lb of wood that you burn. An average fire then costs your neighbors about $40.

17. Long ago most communities passed ordinances protecting people from second hand cigarette smoke. Ironically those laws protect people at places they don’t necessarily have to be (restaurants, stores, buildings, etc). But in the one place they have to be, their home, they have no protection from smoke. People should have just as much protection from wood smoke as from cigarette smoke and for all the same reasons. We don’t allow people to blow cigarette smoke in your face, why should we allow people to blow wood smoke into your home?

18. Wood burning is not even close to carbon neutral over the short term, the next few decades, and it is that time frame that will make or break the climate crisis. Burning wood is extremely in inefficient. Per unit of heat created wood produces even more CO2 than the fossil fuels do.

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