ENVIRONMENT

University of Utah project aims to protect kids from bad air

Jan 8, 2024, 9:42 AM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 8:29 am

After starting the new year with less-than-desirable air quality, Utah may finally be able to take ...

FILE - Smog covers Salt Lake City. (Photo: Ravell Call,/Deseret News.)

(Photo: Ravell Call,/Deseret News.)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is no stranger to bad air quality, leading to health concerns regarding kids and student-athletes. 

One University of Utah professor hopes to help parents and school officials make educated decisions on whether to send students outside.

Kerry Kelly with the University of Utah’s College of Engineering came up with Project CREATE AQI. The plan is to install low-cost air quality monitoring equipment throughout the state. 

They would be placed both indoors and outdoors, specifically tracking larger air pollution particles like dust. The monitors provide more localized data, helping schools and parents know whether it’s safe for kids to be outside. 

Local data

In an article published by the U, Kelly said, “There are a lot of lungs out there. We’re trying to help people make good decisions. If I can’t really see across the field, should I not be holding this event? Is it fog? Is it particle pollution? What’s going on?”

By installing monitors at athletic fields, air quality and dust levels will be measured at the local level. The monitors will specifically look for levels of dust, also known as PM 10.

The plan is to install up to 50 monitors on various athletic fields across Utah to provide localized data on air conditions and larger particle pollution. Kelly says this will help researchers better understand Utah’s dust problem and how local communities can protect themselves.

Additionally, the systems are cheaper to build. 

According to the University of Utah, the devices cost $1,000 to $1,500 each to deploy and connect to the cloud. In contrast, the price tag to equip a regulatory-grade station is $40,000. The project is launching with help of a million-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. 

Amie Schaeffer contributed to this report. 

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University of Utah project aims to protect kids from bad air