July 21, 2020
By Bo Call
Last week, a few hours after the sun came up, a crew from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Division of Air Quality (DAQ) lowered a small shed-like structure to the grounds of the new Utah State Prison. Soon, this tiny white shelter will house a host of scientific instruments designed to monitor air pollution.
The Utah State Legislature passed a bill in 2019 instructing DAQ to conduct emissions monitoring and reporting at the site. The station is one of two new monitoring locations the DAQ monitoring team is setting up to measure if and how the inland port will affect air quality along the Wasatch Front.
To develop an air-quality monitoring plan for the site, the scientists at DAQ started by looking at meteorological data. The key piece of data they looked at was daily wind patterns. Typically, wind blows across the site in a northwest or southeast flow.
Next, scientists selected locations to set up two monitors to measure emissions entering and leaving the port site. One monitor was situated southeast of the inland port at the Monticello Academy, a charter school in West Valley, and the other at the northwest corner of the new prison.
These additions to DAQ’s monitoring network, which consists of 22 stations across the state, will play an important role in providing DAQ valuable information to better address growth and air quality in Utah. These monitors look for a variety of pollutants known to harm humans, including fine particulates that makeup wintertime inversions and the ozone that affects summertime air.
In the coming weeks, the teams from DAQ will finish installing the equipment and testing the new monitors. Once the two stations are fully operational, DAQ’s monitoring team will gather baseline data about current air pollution around the inland port. This baseline data will allow DAQ and policymakers to assess the impact of the port on Utah’s air quality.
The information from DAQ’s monitoring network is provided to the public at air.utah.gov. Here you will find a three-day forecast, the latest monitored levels of pollution, and historical information on air pollution throughout the state. The latest version of UtahAir app, which provides all of this information to your phone, is available for iOS and Android users.
I have been with the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) for 25 years, managing the air monitoring section since 2009. Prior to that I worked in DAQ’s compliance branch and conducted source inspections, specializing in asbestos rules and enforcement. I have a BA in Biology from Utah State University. I am a retired member of the Air Force Reserve as a Transportation Specialist. On my own time, I have a hobby farm and recently entered into the realm of beekeeping.