Why is this work important: Air pollution is the fifth leading cause of disease and premature death on the planet. Less than 15% of the world’s population breathes clean air, and approximately 100 million Americans live in areas with poor air quality. Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of air pollution. Unfortunately, the cost of air pollution measurement technologies is beyond the reach of many. It’s hard to control and prevent what we cannot measure; a lack of measurement belies a lack of awareness.
The goal: Our goal is to develop robust, wearable pollution sensors that are simple and affordable. We are developing a new generation of high-quality, low-cost devices that can be deployed through citizen science, environmental justice, and community-based research networks. These sensors are designed to empower, everyone, everywhere, to become informed about their air they breathe.
The challenge: While demand for low-cost sensors is high, issues of sensor accuracy and reliability are crucial. Most low-cost devices suffer from interferences and/or degrade quickly in the field. Sensor technologies must evolve in order to meet quality metrics necessary for informed decision making (especially for regulatory and health-care professionals). While high-quality devices exist on the market, they cost thousands (to tens of thousands) of dollars for a single unit.
Outcomes: New ideas don’t make a difference if they are not acted upon. Thus, our technology is being designed for scalable production and eventual commercialization. If our technology can move into the marketplace, it has the potential to make make a real, measurable impact on society. Our devices have been licensed to Access Sensor Technologies, whose mission is to deliver high-performance environmental sensing technologies to the marketplace at low cost for all.
Funding & Partners:
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (R01OH010295, R01OH010662)
That National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (R21ES24719)
Access Sensor Technologies, LLC