Advocacy group Breath Utah is partnering with the Utah Division of Air Quality to monitor air quality in different parts of the valley and along the benches. They say the study will help the state better focus efforts to combat pollution.
Kevin Hart is an environmental scientist for the Division of Air Quality. He’s installing a pm2.5 monitor outside Fort Herriman Middle School in Riverton. He says the more of these devices that can be set up the better the state will understand how to approach air pollution.
“If the levels are high in Cache County, well it’s not going to you much good to tell the industry in Salt Lake that they need to cut back on air pollution because the pollution that’s created here is not necessarily gonna go up there,” Hart says.
Erin Mendenhall is Executive Director of Breath Utah. She says the monitors are also being installed at Morningside Elementary school on the east bench, Glendale Middle School on Salt Lake City’s west side and Matheson Jr. High in Magna.
“Intuitively we look up on the bench during a bad inversion and it looks a lot better, but we have not acquired the data to find out if that’s true and that’s what this project is aiming to begin to look at,” Mendenhall says.”
Mendenhall, who also sits on the Salt Lake City Council, says this data will help state officials better serve communities that are disproportionately polluted.
“So if we do find that we have worse air pollution in other areas, then we can concentrate those mitigation efforts in many different ways, particularly on the schools,” Mendenhall says.
She adds the monitors will also help students learn about how weather patterns and elevation effect air quality.