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Free air purifiers are available for Utah schools to help with dirty air, RSV


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SALT LAKE CITY — It doesn't take a website or a special device to see how dirty Utah's air can be.

But some parents, like Brad Plothow, might notice it more than others.

"What's in the air affects my family directly. I've got a son who's got induced asthma and so just allergies can be a trigger for him to miss school," Plothow said.

He also has a daughter with an autoimmune disease.

Beyond its poor air quality, Utah is one of dozens of states that is in the midst of a surge of child hospitalizations due to respiratory illnesses like RSV. The concerning trend has doctors frantically searching for solutions while a group of Utah physicians are trying to push a free resource they say can better protect kids from viruses and air pollution in the state's schools.

The largest hurdle to getting the solution implemented statewide is simply getting the word around. When Plothow heard about the program he contacted administrators.

"We've got a very small window of opportunity to have free devices put in all of our classrooms to improve the air," he said.

The program is being run with the help of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

"The evidence now is overwhelming that air pollution is significantly toxic to brain function and brain development," Dr. Brian Moench, president of the physicians group, said.

Evidence is overwhelming that air pollution is significantly toxic to brain function and development, according to Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
Evidence is overwhelming that air pollution is significantly toxic to brain function and development, according to Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. (Photo: Mike Anderson, KSL-TV)

He points to studies that show how air pollution can impact students' academic performance and how it can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases.

"We need to protect school children as much as possible for their brain development and for their academic performance," Moench said. He also says the physicians need community members, parents and teachers to help spread the word.

Purifiers are in approximately 800 schools but the group would like to get them statewide.

"If we can reduce that sort of transmission and various diseases even a little bit, the whole community benefits," Moench said.

"The more people learn about this, the more amicable they are," Plothow said.


The evidence now is overwhelming that air pollution is significantly toxic to brain function and brain development.

–Dr. Brian Moench, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment


Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment is doing the ordering and installation in schools. Funds are available until July.

The organization's website has details about the program, including where to get more information.

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Utah air qualityUtahEducationEnvironment
Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.

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