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Particulate air pollution and daily mortality on Utah's Wasatch Front.

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  • Research Article


Reviews of daily time-series mortality studies from many cities throughout the world suggest that daily mortality counts are associated with short-term changes in particulate matter (PM) air pollution. One U.S. city, however, with conspicuously weak PM-mortality associations was Salt Lake City, Utah; however, relatively robust PM-mortality associations have been observed in a neighboring metropolitan area (Provo/Orem, Utah). The present study explored this apparent discrepancy by collecting, comparing, and analyzing mortality, pollution, and weather data for all three metropolitan areas on Utah's Wasatch Front region of the Wasatch Mountain Range (Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Provo/Orem) for approximately 10 years (1985-1995). Generalized additive Poisson regression models were used to estimate PM-mortality associations while controlling for seasonality, temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. Salt Lake City experienced substantially more episodes of high PM that were dominated by windblown dust. When the data were screened to exclude obvious windblown dust episodes and when PM data from multiple monitors were used to construct an estimate of mean exposure for the area, comparable PM-mortality effects were estimated. After screening and by using constructed mean PM [less than/equal to] 10 microm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) data, the estimated percent change in mortality associated with a 10-mg/m3 increase in PM10 (and 95% confidence intervals) for the three Wasatch Front metropolitan areas equaled approximately 1. 6% (0.3-2.9), 0.8% (0.3-1.3), and 1.0% (0.2-1.8) for the Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Provo/Orem areas, respectively. We conclude that stagnant air pollution episodes with higher concentrations of primary and secondary combustion-source particles were more associated with elevated mortality than windblown dust episodes with relatively higher concentrations of coarse crustal-derived particles.

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