University Study Discovers Air Pollution Decreases Life Expectancy in Utah

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A new study by BYU researchers has concluded that air quality in Salt Lake City, Utah can decrease life expectancy by up to 3.6 years. | Photo courtesy Science/Jeffrey D. Allred/The Deseret News/AP

The air you breathe in Salt Lake City is killing you slowly. 

According to research released this week in a peer-reviewed study by Brigham Young University researchers, air pollution results in between 2,500 and 8,000 premature deaths each year in Utah, decreasing the median life expectancy by 1.1 to 3.6 years. Along with a reduced life expectancy, air pollution in the Salt Lake Valley is linked to a variety of respiratory, cardiovascular, and cognitive diseases.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the new study was published this week in the journal “Atmosphere” and that it was published merely a week after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency formally proposed reclassifying polluted airsheds along the Wasatch Front as in “attainment” — or in compliance with federal standards — for fine particulate matter, or PM2.5.

Salt Lake County officials acknowledge there is still much room for improvement and they hope to reduce emissions by 25% by 2026, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

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