Bad air quality has a major impact on the health of Utah’s people, which is why helping to clean up Utah’s air is a major part of Intermountain’s community health initiatives this year.

Intermountain’s efforts start with our caregivers. An initiative last year helped caregivers drive three million fewer miles by expanding the use of telework, public transit, and other methods—and we’re looking to expand the initiative this year.

The estimated 3.2 million fewer miles our people drove in 2019, which were tracked in surveys with select groups of caregivers, means 1,293 metric tons of carbon dioxide weren’t put in the atmosphere. That equals taking 281 cars off the road for a year.

“Air quality was identified as a key health need in almost every community Intermountain serves,” said Terry Foust, Intermountain’s Community Health director. “Air quality’s impact on poor mental health, health conditions such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, and stroke, as well as its impact on preterm deliveries, is well-documented.”

“Helping people live the healthiest lives possible also means creating a better environment in the communities we serve,” said Mikelle Moore, senior vice president and chief community health officer. “I’m proud to see our caregivers did so well in reducing their impact on our air quality, and this is only the beginning.”

Driving less is the best way to improve air quality because vehicle exhaust is the biggest contributor to bad air in Utah. During the 2019 project, 58 percent of the miles reduced came from caregivers using public transit, while 40 percent resulted from caregivers working at home. The remaining 2 percent resulted from caregivers walking, biking, or carpooling to work.