Wear a Respirator, Raise Awareness 

For two years, I’ve been wearing my filtration mask on red-air days, hoping not only to protect my lungs but also to raise awareness about how bad Salt Lake City’s air can be. I told friends about it, especially friends who bike or run in the bad air. I told them Salt Lake Running Company sells air-filtration masks.

Then, with one picture on Facebook of me wearing my mask and a particularly bad inversion blighting our fair city, there’s been more conversation about how people can best protect themselves than in the previous two years combined.

My vision is a population of people in Salt Lake City, growing in number, who act within their circle of control and wear masks when the air is bad.

First, by wearing masks, we make it socially acceptable. Second, by wearing masks, we educate. Wearing a mask says: “Today is a red-air day. That’s why I have this mask on.”

Third, we bring it into people’s line of sight. If you see 20 people over the course of your day biking (with a mask on), walking to class (with a mask on), getting on the bus (with a mask on), walking their dog (with a mask on), chances are you’re going to start to wonder why.

So I’m asking you as a first step, when we have red-air days, please change your Facebook photo to one of you wearing your air mask. Field any questions it might spark.

Wear your mask proudly and as often as you can stand, whenever the air is remotely bad. Let us be the change we wish to see in the world. Or at least in Salt Lake City.

HEATHER MCCARTIN
Salt Lake City

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