Precautions for pregnant women on poor air quality days

Posted at 11:34 AM, Jan 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-18 22:06:18-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City is again experiencing poor air quality as an inversion settles into the valley.

On Friday, the PM 2.5 levels for Salt Lake and Davis Counties was nearly 50, which means people in the follow sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor activity: people with lung disease, such as asthma, as well as children and older adults. Track the air quality current conditions on

Recent studies have also looked at the effect of poor air quality on pregnant women, including a possible link between pollution and autism.

"There have been some studies mostly done in foreign countries with significant pollution problems like Poland, LA.  None of them are conclusive as far as long term yet," said Dr. Calla Holmgren, maternal fetal medicine at Intermountain Medical Center.

Holmgren said pregnant women should follow the same recommendations made for people in the sensitive groups.

"I don't think it is necessary to be overly concerned," she said.

She says it is a good idea for pregnant women to limit outdoor activity, stay inside and stay hydrated during an inversion.

"For those folks that want to get out and enjoy the snow in Utah, just get above the inversion before they start to do strenuous activities," Holmgren said.

Holmgren says there can be short-term irritations from dirty air.

"Certainly it can cause respiratory compromise, general irritation. I don't think it's good for overall mood," she said.

01-18-burn-condidtionsThe Utah Department of Environmental Quality released the following restrictions and recommendations: Wood/coal stoves or fireplaces must not be used. Reduce vehicle use by consolidating trips. Industry should optimize operating conditions to minimize air pollution emissions.

The inversion is expected to last through the end of next week when a storm may move over the state.