Utah schools to be site of air pollution monitors

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HERRIMAN -- The air monitoring device sits near the fields at Fort Herriman Middle School, making a soft humming noise.

The device will gather PM 2.5 particulates, as part of a study to determine what parts of the Salt Lake Valley have worse air pollution.

"The pollution levels are going to be different here than say, Utah County or in Weber County," said Kevin Hart, an environmental scientist with the Utah Division of Air Quality.

Hart installed the system on Monday. It will take measurements twice a week.

"We're looking at what the different pollution levels might be at different elevations and areas around the valley," said Erin Mendenhall, the executive director of Breathe Utah. "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."

Breathe Utah got a grant to place the air monitoring devices at Fort Herriman Middle School; Morningside Elementary in Holladay; Glendale Middle School in Salt Lake City; Matheson Jr. High in Magna; and at a site in downtown Salt Lake City.

The schools are being used as air sampling sites because children are considered the most vulnerable to air pollution. Their science classes are also getting involved in taking measurements.

"Data is the beginning of what is going to help us be able to better serve these communities that might be disproportionately affected," Mendenhall said.

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