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Boy struggles to stay healthy in Salt Lake's inversion

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The Feinauer family of Salt Lake City said the inversion is so bad their son, who has congenital heart disease, gets sick each year.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The Feinauer family of Salt Lake City said the inversion is so bad their son, who has congenital heart disease, gets sick each year.

Jacob, 8, was born with half a heart.

“When he gets sick we are desperate to keep him healthy,” Diane Feinauer, Jacob’s mother, said.

The third grader fights extra hard to breathe when the inversion sets in. Feinauer said the dirty, polluted air gives Jacob a respiratory infection that usually leads to pneumonia.

“We’ve talked to his doctors to see if we need to move to Park City or somewhere out of the inversion,” she said. “Realistically he can’t move to a higher elevation with his heart condition.”

The family heads south to St. George for cleaner air or they just stay home. Jacob is forced to leave school for weeks at a time.

“I have to take a lot of tests when I come back because I missed a lot,” he said.

He is one of dozens of children who don’t play outside with friends.

“They ask me if I can play and I have to say no,” he said. “It makes me feel bad.”

Feinauer said it pains her to see her son sad and sick.

“It’s hard on him,” she added. “He’s eight years old. He shouldn’t be worried about Salt Lake’s inversion. He should be outside building snowmen and sledding.”

Feinauer is part of the group “Utah Moms for Clean Air.” She said every mother should step up to protect their children from the toxic atmosphere.

“Something has to change and I think our legislature and governor needs to listen,” she said.

The petition with about 8,000 signatures was turned into the state officials Wednesday morning calling for improvements to Utah’s air quality. A spokesman for the state said the petition will be reviewed and the state agreed more needs to be done.

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