SPUR 2021 Projects: Architecture + Planning

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SPUR projects are listed in alphabetical order by faculty mentor last name. NOTE: While we are hoping for an in-person SPUR experience, given the structure of SPUR (many participants are not U students and/or are not local to Salt Lake City) and depending on U policy for summer 2021 (on-campus research and/or U-related travel restrictions), we are prepared to offer a fully remote SPUR experience should events necessitate the transition. 

City & Metropolitan Planning | College of Architecture + Planning
Global Change & Sustainability Center


Daniel Mendoza, Visiting Assistant Professor

Exposure to air pollution has been associated with multiple negative health outcomes such as pulmonary and cardiovascular events, particularly among vulnerable populations. Over 200,000 people live in Salt Lake City, capital city of Utah and county seat, with over 1.2 million residents in the Salt Lake City Metropolitan area. Salt Lake City is surrounded by mountains to the south, east and west, creating a topographical basin that traps pollution during wintertime stable layers or cold-air pools (also known as inversions) leading to high levels of pollutants, especially fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Interstate highways, an international airport and railroad traffic, industrial pollution sources, windblown dust and wildfires are among the complex sources that contribute these episodic pollution events that are most frequent and severe in the winter and summer. With a growing population and increasing wildfire and dust storm occurrences summertime air quality is becoming an increasing public health concern. Due to the lack of granular, reliable air quality measurements, all previous pollutant exposure and health-related studies have intrinsic resolution issues when examining scales smaller than a county or city. This reduces applicability, since a single sensor cannot portray intra-city variability, nor truly represent individual or neighborhood-scale exposure. This leads to significant mischaracterization of a population’s vulnerability and potential health outcomes. Understanding that the burden of poor air quality is not shared equally among populations is a key motivator for understanding environmental exposure at neighborhood scales.

This project is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (PIs: Sara Grineski and Tim Collins). In addition to being part of SPUR, it is also part of the HAPPIEST program. THIS MEANS THAT IT IS OPEN ONLY TO UNIVERSITY OF UTAH APPLICANTS FROM RACIAL/ETHNIC MINORITY BACKGROUNDS. Two students will be selected to work on this project together.

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