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Utah’s summer smog: What you don’t see can hurt you
Environment » Ozone might be invisible, but its health effects are very real and dangerous.

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"The medical and health care community has been vocal in support of the science for a more protective ozone standard," said Craft, whose group also backs the tougher limits.

Meanwhile, the rural ozone connection is one that is getting more attention in Utah.

At a glance

Self defense: Ozone and you

The Utah Asthma Program and the advocacy group, Breathe Utah, offer some tips:

» Avoid outdoor exercise on smoggy days, roughly noon to 6 p.m.

» Sign up for pollution alerts from the Utah Division of Air Quality at http://www.airquality.utah.gov/

» Check DAQ’s daily forecasts, current conditions and trends, especially on hot, sunny days when the air is stagnant

» Download the Android and Apple apps at EPA’s AirNow http://m.epa.gov/apps/airnow.html

» Take action to limit pollution, such as driving less, using low-fume paints, personal care products and small engine.

» Take heed of symptoms, including unexplained fatigue, chest tightness and a even small cough. Some people experience health effects even before health alerts are issued.

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Recent studies by the Utah Division of Air Quality have shown ozone levels at or over the health-based standard set by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency in Parleys Canyon, Erda in Tooele County and even Antelope Island, where buffalo are more likely to cause traffic jams than motorized vehicles.

"Often in these pristine places," said Utah pulmonologist Paine, "we still have exposure."

Last month Department of Environmental Quality Director Amanda Smith told a congressional subcommittee the high background levels of smog might be drifting into the rural West from Asia, falling from the upper atmosphere or other as-yet-unknown sources. Regardless, it’s creating concern that much of the West may fail to achieve a tightened air-quality standard because of those background levels.

While it’s unclear how the issues will shake out in the regulatory world, the obvious solution for individuals is to take control of their personal health — by watching daily forecasts, tracking hourly readings, monitoring personal symptoms and avoiding conditions that might lead to avoidable harm.

"It requires that you remain vigilant about the quality of the air you are breathing," said Craft, "and that’s definitely a day-to-day responsibility."


Twitter: judyfutah

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