Personal Air Quality Sensors Compare Pollution Levels

Ben Schiller reports on two new air quality sensors that show you pollution comparisons of the air you are breathing right now.

1 minute read

June 15, 2014, 7:00 AM PDT

By Helen Brown


Most of us rely on official air quality data taken from the EPA monitoring stations to gauge the health of the air we breathe. But, what if we could have air quality information for the air that we are breathing right now, not the air surrounding a monitoring station located several miles away?

Two Kickstarter projects Air Quality Eggs and Smart Citizen aim to do just that. According to Ben Schiller, these DIY units are much more affordable (Air Quality Egg costs $350) compared to EPA monitoring stations, which cost $15,000. For now, neither of these individual sensors' pollution data come close to the accuracy of EPA monitoring stations, but they are still useful in displaying "relative air quality." Schiller quotes Mike Barnett, who teaches science at Boston College and is currently working on distributing the sensors: "You can't look up a particular monitor and see what the particulate matter level is. But they're fantastic for comparative analysis." Though it is unlikely that these individual sensors will replace EPA's monitoring stations, as more people outfit their homes and offices with them, they may provide us with air pollution data at a finer scale to complement EPA's regional-scale air pollution data.

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