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The air is cleaner for those living at higher, more expensive elevations

Posted at 6:20 PM, Jan 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-20 21:22:55-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A simple drive from a Wasatch Front canyon into a valley during an inversion proves a simple point.

Air pollution lingers down low.

New, inexpensive air pollution sensors are proving the point with more precision than a simple eye test.

Dr. Kerry Kelly, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Utah, is a principal investigator on a project called "AQ and U." The project combines air quality measurements from government, university, and recently available consumer air quality monitors to track air quality by locale.

"You can have a lot more in the valley, so you can get a better picture of how air quality differs. For example, here at lower and higher elevations," Kelly said.

Kelly and her colleagues provide their data online at One feature allows users to scroll a timeline showing air quality changing through extended inversions or getting cleaned out by storms.

The results show clearly what you might call the "bowl effect." It's the idea that smog gathers in the valley like soup in a bowl, starting at the bottom and filling from there.

With that in mind, FOX 13 looked at a line at one point in time where there was a clear delineation between yellow and green air. When then took that line and placed a map of homes for sale over the top.

The results in the story above show that homes costing less than $300,000 are all in low-lying zones that experience more concentrated air pollution. Homes high on the benches of the Salt Lake Valley where the air tends to be greener cost closer to half a million dollars or more.