How outdoor pollution affects indoor air quality

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Just when you thought you could head indoors to be safe from the air pollution that plagues the Salt Lake Valley, new research shows that elevated air pollution events, like horror movie villains, claw their way into indoor spaces. The research, conducted in conjunction with the Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management, is published in Science of the Total Environment.

In a long-term study in a Salt Lake-area building, researchers found that the amount of air pollution that comes indoors depends on the type of outdoor pollution. Wildfires, fireworks and wintertime inversions all affect indoor air to different degrees, says Daniel Mendoza, a research assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and visiting assistant professor in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning. The study is unique, Mendoza says, combining a long-term indoor air quality monitoring project with paired outdoor measurements and research-grade instruments.

“We all know about the inversions,” Mendoza says. “We all know how large of a problem wildfires are. But do we really know what happens when we’re inside?”

The setup

Mendoza, who also holds appointments as an adjunct assistant professor in the Pulmonary Division at the School of Medicine and as a senior scientist at the NEXUS Institute, and his colleagues set up their air monitoring equipment at the Unified State Laboratories in Taylorsville, Utah…

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