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Wondering What the Air Quality is Like Today? Look to These 3 Sources for Forecasts and Real-Time Pollutant Readings in Salt Lake County

Posted By Regional Development
September 22, 2021

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When bad air days settle in the Salt Lake Valley, we often get asked: Where's the best place to look for the air quality forecast or current pollution conditions? 

During Pollution Prevention Week, Salt Lake County is sharing three key sources residents can use at any time to better plan activities and travels to better protect your family's health and minimize pollution.

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1. Utah Division of Air Quality

Utah Division of Air Quality's (DAQ) monitors represent the gold standard of monitor quality; they must meet federal requirements, so the monitors are the most accurate for studying nearby air. The data is then analyzed by a team of experts at DAQ who test to make sure the data is accurate. it is the official source for air quality data in the State of Utah.

Limits: There are only 12 monitors which cover all of the Wasatch Front. This limits the amount of detailed information available for residents since air quality can differ based on location. The quality of data is the best but doesn't provide enough detail at smaller geographic scales.

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2. University of Utah MesoWest Air Quality Dashboard

The University of Utah operates and manages a network of research-grade stationary sensors across Salt Lake County and the State. TRAX's monitors are among some of the first mobile air monitors in the world using research-grade sensors. This system allows for real-time monitoring spread out over a larger area by accurate measurements of pollution along the TRAX route. The KSL News Chopper is the first and longest running aircraft platform with research-grade sensors.

The data is analyzed by a team of experts at the Atmospheric Sciences department from the University of Utah. The MesoWest website also incorporates other air monitor data sets, including Purple Air and DAQ data.

Soon, electric buses will also be a part of the monitoring network as the program expands to new UTA bus routes, allowing more specific readings across the County. This will provide residents more specific, neighborhood-level air quality readings.

Limits: Some of the data is tied to areas only where TRAX, electric bus routes, or other modes of transportation are able to travel.

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3. Purple Air

Purple Air designs relatively affordable sensors to be purchased by the public. Sensors are now located all around Salt Lake County and the world, and the data is visible to everyone. This allows all residents to see air quality readings in a specific area on an online map.

Limits: Because the monitors are more affordable, they are less accurate and only record PM2.5 data.

Questions? Ask Salt Lake County's Sustainability Director Michael Shea. Email: Mshea@slco.org.