Researchers working to determine why ozone is increasing around Great Salt Lake

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SALT LAKE CITY - It's no secret Utah has ozone issues, especially in the summer, because of our state's unique geography.

Health officials say ozone causes respiratory problems and children and the elderly are the most at risk.

In recent years, ozone levels around the Great Salt Lake have increased and researchers are now working to figure out why.

Experts from Weber State University are working with the Department of Environmental Quality and other Utah universities to put out sensors to detect smog-forming ozone near the Great Salt Lake.

Thursday they used a free-flying balloon called the "Aerostat" to lift a sensor 50 feet into the air in hopes of understanding where the ozone is coming from, how it's moving and how it is mixing with the lake.

"USU and the University of Utah and Weber State have made a few measurements here and there but it's never been coordinated and so now we're all working together to make these measurements all at the same time," John Sohl said, Weber State University physics professor. "All in a fashion that can work together to see if we can expand data set not by a factor of two or three but we're expanding that data set by a factor of 1,000."

Lawmakers signed off on this study in 2014.

Researchers will be collecting measurements through the summer along the Wasatch Front and the Great Salt Lake and plan to review the findings in September.