When discussing the effects of particulate pollution (PM10), the questions that come up are not whether it affects people but how it affects them, a scientist said this week.
"The effect of particulate pollution on health is pretty much a given," said Dr. C. Arden Pope III, associate professor at Brigham Young University during a two-day workshop at LDS Hospital.The workshop is sponsored by the Department of National Health and Welfare, Canada, and will allow scientists to discuss where to go next in researching and writing about the health effects of respirable particulate pollution.
Scientists from all over the country spent the day listening to their colleagues present published and unpublished studies researching the effects of pollution.
Pope gave examples of PM10 effects in Utah Valley. He asked that some of the studies not be discussed because they have not been published yet.
"Utah Valley is, specifically, an interesting place to study," he said. The valley has high PM10 levels during the winter. The valley also has low-level temperature inversions relatively frequently that hold pollutants very near the valley floor, he said.
Scientists studying Utah Valley can use Cache Valley as a control in research. Also making it easier to determine the effects of pollution, the area has few smokers.
Utah Valley has three PM10 monitoring sites and basically one main source of PM10s - the Geneva steel mill, Pope said.
"A day or two into an inversion and you can see an increase in pollutants," he said. The pollution exacerbates conditions like asthma and other respiratory diseases.
When attempting to correlate mortality rates to PM10 levels, answers to questions about whether a life span is shortened by pollution become difficult, Pope said.
Studies presented at the workshop show there are substantial effects on mortality in many cities, including some in Utah, he said.