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Health impacts given short shrift in focus on Uinta Basin ozone?
Environment » Economic impact getting lots of attention, health issues not so much.

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"A very little bit of information goes a long way," said Hofmann, who helped develop a symptom-tracking tool to be used in conjunction with ozone reports.

The tool helps parents and asthma sufferers take a personal approach to addressing ozone impacts. Once someone discovers what level causes them trouble, they can take useful steps to make sure that pollution doesn’t harm their health or slow their activities, she said.

At a glance

Ozone and health

Federal law directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop its pollution control regulations based on health-impact studies. Regulations on ozone are no different, although purists insist that the acceptable level of ozone should be zero because research suggests there are negative health impacts at even the smallest levels.

According to the EPA, people with lung disease, children, older adults and people who are active tend to be harmed most by high ozone pollution. Health impacts can include airway irritation, coughing, and pain when taking a deep breath; wheezing and breathing difficulties during exercise or outdoor activities; inflammation, aggravation of asthma and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis; and permanent lung damage with repeated exposures.

For more information about ozone, see the websites:

For Tri-County Health: http://www.tricountyhealth.com/AirQuality.html

From the Utah Department of Environmental Quality: http://www.deq.utah.gov/locations/uintahbasin/index.htm

Also, Breathe Utah has a step-by-step guide on creating an air pollution action plan: http://www.breatheutah.org/emergency-plan

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"It’s a challenging public health message to get out there," she added. "We’re talking about stuff no one wants to know."

Meanwhile, Hansen and her friends hope regulators are headed in the right direction with the attention they’re giving to the ozone problem in Duchesne and Uintah counties.

"The public," Hansen said, "is ill-served by not knowing the truth."


Twitter: judyfutah

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