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Staying indoors doesn't necessarily keep you safe from Utah's bad air

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – We are still seeing some bad air across the Wasatch front. We expected to see some cleaner air this weekend, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. A new study shows even if you're indoors that unhealthy air could be impacting your health.

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – We are still seeing some bad air across the Wasatch front. We expected to see some cleaner air this weekend, but Mother Nature didn’t cooperate. A new study shows even if you're indoors that unhealthy air could be impacting your health.

The Department of Environmental Quality says on our worst air days pollution from vehicles, wood smoke and industry exhaust is trapped the valley.

Bethany Hyatt told ABC 4 Utah, "Every day we're emitting pollution. It doesn't stop; it just builds and builds and builds."   

Dr. Randy Martin Associate Research Professor of Environmental Engineering at Utah State University says the worst of those pollutants are the PM 2.5

"The 2.5 microgram size is the size that can penetrate all the way down into your respiratory system and deposit itself in the deepest lung tissue in the sacks which can interfere with your oxygen exchange in your capillaries,” explained Dr. Martin.

The pollutant that makes up pm 2.5 is mostly ammonium nitrate. At colder temperatures it combines to make that nasty particle.

Dr. Martin said, "The colder it is the more likely it is for those species to combine and form a particle, a PM 2.5 particle."

At room temperature that PM 2.5 turns back into a gas. Dr. Martin's study suggests that when the polluted air enters the home and warms up the PM 2.5 dissolves into a gas and becomes much lower.

"Our study suggests that your indoor air is about 25% of the outdoor air,” said Dr. Martin. “So your heating system is doing quite a bit by itself to remove a lot of that pollution."

The inside air is 75% cleaner then the outside air, but studies suggest this level of pollution can still be bad for your health.

Dr. Martin said, "Even the standard 35 micrograms per cubic meter we still see measurable detrimental health effects at that level."

There are some air filters you can buy for your home that will reduce the levels of PM 2.5, but they are expensive and they also require some major modifications to your furnace.

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