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Schools In Salt Lake Co. Will Help The U Monitor Air Pollution

Lee Hale
These "AirU" devices will help track air quality throughout Salt Lake County.

The University of Utah is partnering with middle and high schools along the Wasatch Front to monitor winter air pollution.

The project is called AirUand the plan is to install around 50 particulate matter sensors at schools this coming spring. Each device will provide real time air quality.


Kerry Kelly, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Utah involved with the project, says she sees schools finding this information very useful.


“They have on the ground knowledge of what’s going on," Kelly says. "They know if people are idling vehicles right where they place their sensors, they know if it’s a bus stop, they know if all of a sudden construction activities are taking place.”


These discoveries can be used to educate students and improve the air they’re breathing. The data will also be shared with professors and students at the U, giving them a better—more detailed—view into conditions throughout Salt Lake County.


Kelly says these devices are not as sophisticated as the equipment used by Utah’s Division of Air Quality. And the idea is not to replace the work they do. Rather, the hope is to involve more people in the process by eventually making these monitors available to the public.  


“You can really take ownership of your air quality," says Kelly. "Both outdoor at the community level and inside your own home as well.”


Basically, thinking about air quality as less of a state or county issue and more of a neighborhood responsibility.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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