Portable Air Sensors May be Coming to Cellphones
Though the fervor over air pollution may have decreased over the recent decades for other, more visible pollutants, the problem still exists in many areas. In these areas though, there is not necessarily a great number of monitoring stations and what data the few do collect are not always accessible to the public. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego are starting to change that though with portable sensors and cellphones.
There are many different kinds of air pollutants, but the three most common emissions are ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide, so the sensors the researchers developed only monitor them. After building 20 of these sensors, they and cellphones for them to connect to, were given to 30 users to have with them for four weeks. During that time the user could check the air quality and in some case, they responded to it. For example, the users and later the researchers found, that by changing a bicycle route, even by one block, air pollution could be avoided. Also driving at another time of day than rush hour can greatly improve air quality.
While the study has ended, the CitiSense program is likely to go on as the sensors are relatively cheap and could be easily deployed to analyze air quality throughout different cities. Also it may be possible to shrink the sensor down to fit into cellphones, so users can always monitor air quality. Either way, the information gathered on where pollution-hot-spots are could do a great deal to improve the health of those exposed to it.