USU Undergraduate Research Fellow Rachel Sagers is investigating the effects of particulate air pollution on human lung cells. The biology and public health major presents her research on Utah’s Capitol Hill Tuesday, Feb. 18. M. Muffoletto.
LOGAN – Utah State University undergraduate researcher Rachel Sagers says the high concentration of fine particulate air pollution – PM2.5 – in Cache Valley is among the worst reported in the U.S.
She is investigating the valley air, since no long-term studies have been conducted on ozone and particulate pollution in Cache Valley.
”Ozone is a specific chemical particle whereas PM 2.5 and PM 10 both refer to size,” Sagers explained. “And so PM 2.5 is the most dangerous size because it’s so small it can get really far into our lungs.”
She said the pollution is the worst this time of the year.
”It’s especially bad in the winter because we have the inversion and because of the geography where we live all the air and the pollution gets trapped here.”
Tuesday morning during the annual Undergraduate Research Day at Utah’s Capitol Rotunda, she will be among about 30 USU students presenting their work to legislators and visitors.
”I’ll get to talk to legislators about this problem and discuss what they are thinking about it,” she added, “what they’re doing about it and maybe what they can do about it.”
She said exposure to PM 2.5 particulates is associated with cancer and a variety of other diseases.
During Cache Valley winters, emissions from autos and livestock add to the mist hanging over the bowl-shaped valley while high pressure weather systems trap the pollution.
Sagers, whose faculty mentor is Professor Roger Coulombe, is a human biology and public health major.
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