Monday, December 6, 2010

Utah's Toxic Air...A Note From Utah Moms For Clean Air

(for those of you who live in Utah, this post is for you)

I will say it again, ARRRGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!  As a mother of two young children
whose lungs are still developing, I feel sick that my babes are forced to
breathe this smelly gunk we call air. Every time we enter this toxic haze, my
heart sinks wondering what impact this is having on their tiny lungs and hearts,
not to mention their life-time cancer risk.    As of today, we have had three
RED air alerts in a row, the first, but surely not the last, of this winter's
inversion season.  I feel deeply frustrated already and I wonder how I will
manage the entire winter.... physically, psychologically.... sometimes I feel it
would be so much easier to just move my family.  But, we love Utah, we love Salt
Lake City, we love our home, our community, the I continue the
fight for the right to breathe clean air.  

To find out about current air quality (or lack thereof) conditions check out Utah's  Department of Air Quality ( You can also sign-up for air alerts on On Red air days such as today and thru this coming weekend, Utah Moms for Clean Air advises the following: 
 1. Keep children indoors as much as possible. Let them burn off that extra energy at bounce
houses, your local gymnasium, indoor swimming pools, ice skating rinks or take them up the mountains for some snow play and blue sky.  

2. Make sure your child's school has a plan in place for high pollution days.  Recess guidelines
are available at:  

3. Keep your windows and doors shut as much as possible and keep a HEPA-grade air purifier running in the areas most frequented by your family. At night, put a HEPA-grade air purifier in your sleeping quarters.  HEPA-grade vacuum cleaners are also available on the market.  
4.  Add a few indoor air cleansing plants to your home such as spider plants, philodendron, peace lily, english ivy, ferns and palms.   
5. Avoid running, biking and other high exertion activities.   
6. Do not burn anything!   
7. Minimize your driving. Do not idle your car for more than 10 to 30 SECONDS. Telecommute. Postpone trips that can wait, carpool or take public transportation.    
8. Avoid drive-thru service windows.  
9. Minimize your indoor air pollution by eliminating all scented candles and plug-in air "fresheners" (most of which host cancer-causing chemicals). Non-scented candles are available at Whole Foods and Salt Lake's Earth Goods General Store.    
10.  Also minimize the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) you bring into your home. This may sound overwhelming, especially if this is the first time you have heard of them and have no idea what they are, but the basic rule of thumb is if you can smell off-gassing (that new car or carpet smell smell, the smell of new plastic, a recent paint job or a strong chemical whiff of cleaning products etc) then it probably has VOCs. VOCs are a huge environmental health concern due to the breadth of irritating symptoms they cause (see and their cancer-causing potential. Nearly all products containing VOCs can be replaced with healthier alternatives. For example wool carpet or FLOR's unique carpet tiles ( are usually nontoxic and do not create that nasty off-gas smell.  Get indoor air pollution alerts at MedlinePlus (part of the National Institutes for Health):
11. Breathe Utah has a new and very useful Emergency Red Air Action plan that you can custom fit to your family (

Cherise Udell
Founder, Utah Moms for Clean Air

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