The Place


University of Utah students are learning about air quality and its underlying science

Posted at 1:33 PM, Jan 22, 2021

The University of Utah and UCAIR are longtime partners working to continue improving our state's air quality.

AQ&U is a big part of that, and we talked with Dr. Kerry Kelly, assistant professor, chemical engineering at the University of Utah, to learn more about it.

AQ&U is a citizens air quality monitoring and education program. There are citizens and schools along the Wasatch Front that host air-quality sensors.

The air quality data from these portable sensors provide localized information, and you can access that at

Dr. Kelly says this is a great opportunity for students to learn about air quality and help interest them in the underlying science.

With air quality studies at the University of Utah, smoke from wood burning has been a focus over the past few years.

Dr. Kelly says there is some good news to report: wood smoke's contribution has declined.

That is significant to our air quality as smoke from wood burning fireplaces and stoves can be a significant source of the pollution.

Running an EPA-certified wood stove for one hour produces the same amount of dangerous emissions as driving 500 to 1000 miles, Dr. Kelly explained.

Switching to a natural gas fireplace is a good idea because it emits approximately 150 times less particle pollution than a certified wood stove.

There are other things you can do to, including shutting off your car while you wait. Idling for 10 seconds wastes more gas than restarting your engine. Plan ahead by putting an extra scarf or blanket in your car to have handy and keep you warm.

Telework, if you're able and fill up with Tier 3 Fuel. You may also want to consider switching to a battery-powered snowblower. as a lot of easy and inexpensive things you can do to make air quality improvements in your home and community.