In the Hive

The human health and economic costs of air pollution in Utah


Air pollution visible over the Salt Lake Valley in November (Roger McDonough | KCPW)

A study published in 2020 by a cohort of scientists from Brigham Young University, the University of Utah and other institutions found that air pollution shortens life-expectancy in Utah on average by two years. The study, a compilation of data on the human health and economic impacts of pollution, reported that between 2,500 and 8,000 premature deaths per year in the state are the result of polluted air, and that the economic costs from the problem add up to as much as $3.3 billion annually — up to 1.7% of the state’s gross domestic product. But, as one one of the authors of the study explains “what we’re seeing as a state is that we’re investing fractions of the costs” to tackle the problem.

Plus, the proposal at this year’s legislative session to allow death certificates to list air pollution among the contributing factors leading to a person’s death.

Isabella Errigo, Brigham Young University environmental science graduate student
Layton Republican Rep. Stephen Handy

In the Hive
From local politics, to arts and culture, to history, the environment and beyond, “In the Hive” explores the issues and ideas that tie Utah together. Produced by KCPW Studios
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