Buses to collect more real-time air quality data in Salt Lake County

Routes will help detect more pollution hot spots, including in the valley’s west side.

(Photo courtesy Salt Lake County) Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson announces a new air monitoring pilot program that uses electric buses to track pollution on Friday, July 16, 2021.

Buses moving commuters east and west across Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County will soon serve a secondary purpose — tracking real-time air quality conditions.

Salt Lake County announced the pilot air monitoring program Friday, in partnership with Utah Transit Authority, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and the University of Utah. Sensors attached to electric buses will provide instant information about harmful pollutants hovering around the Salt Lake Valley, including ozone, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide gas.

“Improving the air we breathe is a top priority and concern for us,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said in a news release, “and to accelerate more equitable environmental gains, we must have better data.”

(Photo courtesy Salt Lake County) Air monitoring sensors will collect data about pollutants like particulate matter and ozone as they travel around Salt Lake County attached to electric buses.

UTA, DEQ and the U. launched an air monitoring program using its TRAX light rail trains in 2014. Adding monitors to buses will provide information about pollution hot spots in more areas, including in west-side neighborhoods.

“This effort will facilitate analysis for public health and policy purposes that will help us address environmental justice concerns,” Daniel Mendoza, a U. professor of atmospheric sciences, said in the news release.

Two routes will include the air quality monitors. One, called “Route 2,” mostly follows 200 South in Salt Lake City, traveling between the U. campus and 600 West. The other, “Route 509,” meanders from the Salt Lake Central Station to Redwood Road to West Valley Central Station.

After some trial runs, the real-time information collected by the buses will be available online with other air monitoring data collected along the Wasatch Front.