Since the beginning of the industrial age of America sparked by the Industrial Revolution, the country’s air quality has begun to worsen significantly. Recently, these issues have been brought to light as the issue of climate change is now being brought into the political light. A recent study done at Brigham Young University (BYU) highlights the pressing nature of the need to address the current climate crisis, as they found that the state’s poor air quality affects both the state’s economy and its residents’ longevity.
The study, led by graduate student Isabella Errigo, concluded that air pollution in Utah has resulted from anywhere between 2,500 and 8,000 premature annual deaths, in addition to reducing the median life expectancy from a range of 1.1 to 3.6 years. To reach these results, the study employed an approach called “expert assessment,” which goes through freely available and cited research from scientific studies in conjunction with expert opinions to make a conclusion. From their analysis, the researchers were able to identify both the diseases and economic damage that came as a result of the poor air quality.
What was surprising, however, was the startling economic impact of the poor air quality. The researchers found that anywhere from $750 million to $3.3 billion were lost due to poor air conditions as a primary result of crop damage, health care expenses, and lost tourism.
The state has been at work to combat these issues, as outlined in the Utah Roadmap to Clean Air, which outlines regulations that will save the state approximately $500 million annually as soon as 2030.
Poor air quality has been on the rise across the country, and it is clear that it is having both severe economic and health impacts. Utah is working to address these issues, and as more states follow, the future of carbon neutrality for America looks to be happening sooner than later.