Studying Utah's Air Using TRAX
Logan Mitchell, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utah, has been studying Salt Lake’s urban air, particularly levels of carbon dioxide, methane, ozone and particulate matter.
He’s placed sensors on the red and green trains of the TRAX train system in order to better understand how pollution interacts with the air differently throughout the valley.
"You actually see the highest levels of ozone kind of on the outside of the valley--on the valley benches," Mitchell said. "And ozone is invisible and so people don’t necessarily know about it.”
In Utah ozone and particulate matter are the worst forms of pollution. Mitchell said the train-mounted sensors can sample the air at different areas of the valley, over and over again. The repeated sampling helps researchers understand the dynamics of urban air pollution.
“We see these common patterns, but it’s every single inversion is a little bit different," Mitchell said.
The project may be expanded to more areas in Utah in the future. Mitchell hopes he can work with health managers to better understand how the air pollutants are impacting health. The real time data of this research can be found at air.utah.edu.