Students initiate study on air pollution and unhoused people

Who in city government tracks the environmental effects of air pollution on people experiencing homelessness? When students in the 2019 Global Changes and Society class looked into it, they found that there was not an office with that responsibility. Initially, students set out to change that missing piece. But those efforts have now also resulted in a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, as part of a special issues “Addressing public health and health inequities in marginalized and hidden populations.”

The project-based course Global Changes and Society (SUST 6000) features guest lecturers with expertise in research related to global changes and sustainability. In this course, students from different disciplines Identify a theme or focus area, begin to learn the language and approaches of other disciplines around the theme, explore perspectives and approaches of different stakeholders, and develop a team project. Recognizing that there are disproportionate environmental impacts on certain socially and geographically vulnerable communities in the Salt Lake Valley, students in the 2019 class developed projects to address some of these issues.

The student group with members including Angelina DeMarco and Rebecca Hardenbrook (GCSC Fellow 2018-19) noted that during poor air quality events such as inversions, wildfires, and heightened ozone periods, residents are urged to stay indoors when possible, but people affected by homelessness don’t have the luxury of escaping indoors on short notice to avoid poor air conditions. But it appeared that no-one had researched the effects of poor air quality on this population.

Read about the research project these students developed with GCSC faculty affiliates Daniel Mendoza (Atmospheric Sciences and City & Metropolitan Planning) and Jeff Rose (Parks, Recreation and Tourism) in At the U.

Mendoza & Lin: How Much Can Transit Improve Air Quality?

It makes sense that riding public transit is better for air quality than single riders each driving a personal vehicle. In a new study, GCSC affiliates Daniel Mendoza and John Lin, along with colleague Martin Buchert, quantify those emissions reductions. The research team analyzed rider data along with transit service schedules and routes to estimate the impact of Utah Transit Authority buses, light rail, and commuter rail on the air quality in its service region by accounting for vehicle miles traveled, gasoline gallons equivalent of fuel consumed, and multiple pollutant species emitted. The researchers predict that certain equipment upgrades could reduce some pollutants by 50% to 70%. Read more here.

Up in the air with Gannet Hallar, Atmospheric Scientist

When Gannet Hallar recently gave a talk on her career path to students at Truman State, she included a slide titled, “Where in the world will science take you?” The answer: pretty much everywhere.

Today, we are fortunate to have Gannet as a GCSC faculty affiliate in the department of Atmospheric Sciences, studying the meteorology of air quality.

The Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement website recently profiled Dr. Hallar, from her high school introduction to science to her role as director of the Storm Peak Laboratory research facility. Click here to read the profile.

U Researchers Develop Leading Urban CO2 Network

CO2 is understood to be one of the key greenhouse gases that alter the energy balance of the Earth’s surface and thus the climate in which we live in. Human activities are increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and leading to anthropogenic climate change, with potentially significant consequences, due to the central role in which human societies around the world have adapted to their respective climates.

Beginning in 2001, Jim Ehleringer, Dave Bowling, and Diane Pataki, all Department of Biology, began to put CO2 sensors into place in the Salt Lake Valley. Atmospheric scientist John Lin has expanded those efforts, and the network is providing key data on urban greenhouse gases.

Read more at U news.