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When Utah's air is bad, there's an app for that

Published August 14, 2013 5:03 pm

Technology • My Air guide would help people make individual risk decisions on smoggy days.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utahns could soon have a new tool to help gauge the impact smog might have on their bodies during a run, a walk or any other activity.

Now in beta testing, the My Air app is being developed by John Yoon, who has been working on the concept with Steve Packham, a toxicologist with the Utah Division of Air Quality. Yoon said Wednesday on KUER-FM's RadioWest program that the online tool will probably be available for smartphones in September, before Utah's traditional winter smog season gets underway.

The idea is to help people know how much healthy outdoor activity they can enjoy, depending on real-time pollution levels, Yoon said. Ozone and particulate pollution levels are reported continuously on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's AIRNow Web page and smartphone app, as well as the Utah Division of Air Quality Web page.

"We really want to take the available information and make it accessible," Yoon said on the radio show.

In addition, the My Air app will base its recommendations for individuals on personal health data users themselves provide.

That means if you are, say, a middle-aged asthmatic thinking about two hours of running or golf at a certain time, the app can advise you how long you can engage in that activity — during a winter particulate pollution episode or a smoggy summer afternoon — before you begin compromising your health, Yoon said.

Yoon said My Air data will be shared with researchers eager to learn about pollution and its impact on Utahns.

Bryce Bird, director of Utah's air-quality program, noted that his agency is not in a position to endorse the app, since its area of expertise is not health effects. However, he pointed out that Yoon has consulted sports medicine experts, the EPA's health-based Air Quality Index and the Utah Department of Health in developing the app.

"It lines up with the best information we have," he said.


Twitter: judyfutah




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