Salt Lake County Regional Development News
How clean is indoor air, really? Salt Lake County, University of Utah Health studying air quality inside and outside families’ homes
August 31, 2021
When the air outside is visibly thick with a brown and yellow haze of pollutants, Salt Lake County families retreat indoors, where it is arguably safer to breathe. But, what if it’s not?
University of Utah Health and Salt Lake County kicked off a new scientific study of local indoor and outdoor air quality, which aims to better understand the status of air quality in at-risk families’ homes across the valley, from the summer’s smoke and heat to the winter’s inversions.
“It is critical to not only improve the air we breathe outside but understand and improve the air the most vulnerable among us breathe inside their homes as well if we are going to protect the safety of residents and ensure a healthier future,” Mayor Jenny Wilson said.
The study will involve tracking indoor and outdoor air quality in Salt Lake County through the end of 2021 and into early 2022, after which the results will be analyzed and shared with the public.
“There is a common misconception that indoor air quality is vastly different from outdoor air quality and always better,” said Dr. Daniel Mendoza, CEO of AQUEHS Corp, who is one of the study’s experts collecting data. “Unfortunately, activities, such as cooking and vacuuming, can make indoor air quality worse than outdoors. Very small particles, such as from the wildfires we are currently experiencing, are able to work their way in a home through any small cracks and openings.”
Mendoza and Scott Collingwood, PhD and University of Utah Health assistant professor of pediatrics, are placing multiple instruments in the homes of 10 Salt Lake County families that have agreed to participate in the study and are also part of Salt Lake County’s free Green and Healthy Homes Program. Monitors will capture PM2.5 and ozone. Radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer, is also being monitored in the study.
“This project will be the first opportunity to have an objective analysis of air quality in the homes participating in the County’s Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, where we get high resolution measurements both before and after the program’s interventions and updates,” Collingwood said. “Future work can expand on the project to evaluate any health care improvements, cost reductions and quality of life improvements like reducing lost work and school days.”
Early data gathered from the study shows a large spike in PM2.5 in the middle of August 6, when Salt Lake County first experienced the California wildfire plume. During the initial event, the air quality inside the residence was above red for a couple of hours and above orange for almost two days (PM2.5).
However, other measurements show a noticeable decrease in ozone gas during that same time period since the sun was so obscured that it could not be generated. As expected, ozone is relatively low inside at all times.
Effects of Poor Air Quality
Pollutants found indoors, including small particles and gases, can cause shortness of breath, chest tightening, wheezing, coughing, and chest pain. Following initial data collection, personalized intervention will be taken through the Salt Lake County Green and Healthy Homes Program, after which additional measurements will be taken at homes to assess levels of improved air quality.
“This is part of our overall effort to help anyone affected by poor indoor air quality,” said John Russell, a Salt Lake County Housing Program Manager. “There’s a way to make your home healthier. We’ve been doing this work for decades in Salt Lake County, but we’ve never had the air quality measurements we’re getting now. We know the Healthy Homes interventions have an impact, and this will give us an objective measurement.”
Residents can take small steps to improve their indoor air quality and personal health without having to purchase an expensive air filtration unit by testing for radon; washing bedding in addition to dusting and vacuuming regularly; cleaning mold and fixing water leaks; and cleaning without harsh chemicals. To learn more about Green & Healthy Homes, as well as how to reduce health triggers in your home, visit slco.org/green-healthy-homes.
August 30, 2021
Data released by Apartment List and analyzed and visualized by Salt Lake County's Office of Data & Innovation illustrates steep changes in rent costs in Salt Lake County in 2021 when compared to previous years.
The graph above shows rent changes from 2019 to 2021 in both percent change and median percent change compared to other counties of a similar size. Since January 2021, Salt Lake County has seen a more than 10% change.
An Accelerating Median Price
This chart illustrates the accelerating median price of rent in Salt Lake County, hovering around $1,100 in early 2017 to $1,450 in July 2021.
Overall Rent Changes 2 Year-Over-Year
This graph gathers rent data from Utah's five most populous counties and compares 2 year-over-year percent changes in rent, beginning in January 2019 to July 2021.
Salt Lake County, illustrated in lime green, experienced a dip from April 2020 until January 2021, when changes made a steep upward turn amounting to about an 11% increase in just six months.
- Rents are indeed accelerating substantially in 2021.
- Salt Lake County rates seem to be typical among the most major counties in Utah. While we saw a small "major city" COVID-19 rent dip, it never turned negative.
- Salt Lake County rent trends are like those of similar-size counties since 2020, however on a slightly more aggressive level.
Apartment List named five reasons, based on its data, behind rising rental prices across the nation in an Aug. 24 article. They are:
- There are more households competing for homes than ever before
- Homeownership is becoming prohibitively expensive
- Search data suggest many renters are actively looking for a new home right now
- Apartment hunters are searching with increased urgency
- Apartment vacancy rates are historically low
Need Help? Get Rental Assistance
If you or someone you know is impacted by rising costs and having a difficult time paying rent right now due to the pandemic, please apply for free rental assistance at https://rentrelief.utah.gov.
Rental assistance is open to all residents who make below a combined income of $51,650 if you're a household of one; $59,000 for two people; $66,400 for three people; $73,750 for four people in Salt Lake County. If you have a household with more than four people, visit this page to view income guidelines for homes with five or more individuals.
Rental assistance can be used for:
- Current rent plus 3 months of prospective rent (with a termed lease)
- Past-due rent
- Eligible fees
- Security deposit
- Utilities, internet and home energy costs
Data from Apartment List is gathered based on its listings and older census data to trend forward.
Brooke Shankland joined Salt Lake County Economic Development in mid-August as our new Economic Development Manager.
Brooke manages Salt Lake County's Economic Opportunity portfolio, working with community-based organizations, entrepreneurs, service providers, and other regional stakeholders to make investments that improve economic opportunity in the County.
Her unique background in entrepreneurship, business consulting, and inclusion will help her connect businesses with the resources they need to thrive and workers with the jobs and skills they need to succeed.
Before joining the County, Brooke worked as a technology consultant and corporate social responsibility manager at Huron Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers, respectively. Brooke has a BA in Economics & Philosophy as well as an MBA, with concentrations in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, from Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!).
Brooke is excited to continue her work in the social impact sector by working with divisions at the County and other stakeholders to address barriers to more equitable economic opportunity across the valley.
She lives in Salt Lake City with her husband, Pat, and spunky, 60-pound dog, Ace. They thrive on all the outdoor activities the area has to offer, including fishing, hiking, camping, and skiing.
Brooke also has a small creative business called Eudaimonia Studio that marries her love of design, philosophy, and sewing by designing modern quilt patterns inspired by ancient wisdom for human flourishing.
Reach out to Brooke and introduce yourself! Email her at email@example.com or call her at 385-468-4868.
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