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Inversion Layer — Just call it Smog

icon By: Kurt - Medicine Simply Put
12/14/2011

I was surprised when I learned the Salt Lake Valley had the worst “Inversion Layer” in the United States.  Worse than Los Angeles or New York.  When I looked up what an inversion layer was I realized it was just a fancy name for smog.  Basically hot air on top traps the cold air on the bottom and the mountains keep all the exhaust from all the machines close to the ground.  I have driven to Park City up in the mountains which is above the smog and seen this blanket of brown air hanging over the valley.  It is then I think, “I’m breathing that?”

So why do I go on and on about this?  Because anyone with allergies, asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, a heart condition, and even cigarette smokers are going to find breathing a whole lot harder because their airway will react to all the chemicals in the air and cause swelling and mucus production.  Yep when I see the inversion layer is bad I know I will see a lot of respiratory complaints.

I tell my patients to check the inversion layer or air quality by going to http://www.airmonitoring.utah.gov/  If it is bad don’t leave the house, close the windows, turn on the AC or get special filters for your ducts.  Go from house, to car, to store, or work,  if have to travel.  Wear an N-95 or P-100 rated mask when have to be outside.  Both of which you can buy at Lowe’s or Home Depot to filter out all that junk in the air.

So why won’t they wear the mask?  Because it is not fashionable.  They would look weird.  People would stare at them.  So instead they come in not breathing well and I have to administer oxygen, give epinephrine shots, administer steroids, and provide nebulizer treatments to get them back under control.  Wearing the stupid mask would be so much easier.  So come on be a trend setter.  Make it cool to wear the mask.  Maybe then it will get the people in charge of air quality’s attention and they will do something about it.  Like putting a giant fan north of Ogden to blow the smog out of the valley.  See?  I’m thinking outside the box.  Okay I’ll stick to medicine.

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