Video game app teaches teens about air pollution

Video game app teaches teens about air pollution

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SALT LAKE CITY — A video game app being developed at the University of Utah aims to help teach Utah teens about air quality and inversions over the winter.

A team at the university received a $40,000 grant to develop the video game app.

Kerry Kelly, a research associate with the University of Utah Department of Chemical Engineering and associate director of the Program for Air Quality, Health and Society said they are aiming it at teens.

"Our goal is to target these next generation of decision makers so they will be well prepared to address our continued air quality challenges," she said.

"Our population continues to grow, and our geography is going to stay the same, so we will face air quality challenges for many years to come," she said.

The game will have different scenarios, according to Kelly. Maybe you are driving an older car on a red air day, or maybe you are a mayor making decisions or a city planner timing traffic lights. Kelly hopes the video game will connect with folks in just one way of thousands that Utahns can work together to keep the air cleaner during the winter.

The project launched this month. It's a partnership between the University of Utah's Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, high school students from the Granite School District's AMES Academy, Breathe Utah, the Utah Division of Air Quality, and researchers from the University of Utah Program for Air Quality Health and Society.

The game is projected to be finished around December 2014.

In the meantime, the Salt Lake region remains under a health alert from high soot counts, with no relief in sight. A winter inversion similar to an icy fog is trapping tailpipe and other emissions in the mountain valleys of northern Utah.

Air-quality regulators predicted Tuesday would mark a 22nd day of toxic air for the Salt Lake region this winter, matching a number hit around the same time last year.

The soot counts soared to 56 micrograms per cubic meter in Salt Lake and Davis counties Monday, nearly 50 percent over the federal health limit.

Cache County also is locked under a blanket of air pollution. Soot counts there hit around 45 micrograms per cubic meter Monday.

Officials are banning wood-burning and urging people to drive less.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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