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West Valley City Journal

Furnace Filter Exchange Program helps West Valley families improve indoor air quality

Feb 09, 2024 04:30PM ● By Peri Kinder

As hospitals in the county see an increase in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), lawmakers in the state launched a program to help improve air quality in the homes of children affected by respiratory illnesses. 

In January, Sen. Luz Escamilla, Rep. Angela Romero, Dr. Daniel Mendoza, and Dr. Shana Godfred-Cato announced the Furnace Filter Exchange Program. Funded by the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit: Rocky Mountain Region, the initiative provides households in West Valley with the opportunity to upgrade their furnace filters to high-efficiency ones, free of charge. 

“Often people only think about the air outside of their home, not inside,” Romero said. “This program works to educate families about how indoor air quality can have an impact on health. One of the top priorities of this legislative session for the Democratic Caucuses is air quality. We call on our legislative colleagues to join us in providing funding to address our quality across the state.”

The main goal of the program is to improve air quality within homes, impacting the respiratory health of participating families. Initially, the program will work with 100 families in the community, with hope to expand. 

To participate, applicants must live in West Valley, have permission to access to the home’s furnace and have children in the home who have been diagnosed with a respiratory disease. 

“We will go into homes and provide new air filters and collect their current ones,” Godfred-Cato said. “The old filters will be analyzed, and families will receive a report that tells them what air contaminants were found in their home….We will focus on families with children that have chronic lung conditions such as asthma since we know that poor air quality can lead to worsening respiratory health.”

She also stated that the county’s poor air quality contributes to increased respiratory illness, but candles, incense and the frying of food inside the home can also contribute to poor indoor air quality. 

The Furnace Filter Exchange Program includes placing an air quality sensor outside and inside participating homes to measure pollution levels before and after the new filters are installed. The family will be connected with a medical specialist to discuss the health concerns of poor air quality and provide healthcare for children with respiratory related symptoms. 

“This program aims to reach working families in our Westside communities who are just trying to survive,” Escamilla said. “The health care component and educational aspect are important for our low-income families who may not have access to health care. Every part of the state should have good air quality regardless of location.” 

The PEHSU: Rocky Mountain Region is part of a national network dedicated to the prevention and treatment of health concerns in children brought about by environmental exposures. Its mission is to improve pediatric health by supporting communities facing ongoing environmental challenges. 

Through this program, Escamilla and Romero want to foster healthier living environments and empower families to protect their respiratory health. They encourage eligible households to apply for the opportunity to help create a healthier, safer community for children. Search online for the Furnace Filter Exchange Program to apply. λ