Can We Rely on DIY Air Pollution Sensors?

first_imgNew territory for a known technologyPollution sensors that measure air contaminants have been on the market for many years. Passenger cars have sophisticated emission controls that rely on data collected by air sensors inside the vehicles. These inexpensive sensors use well-established chemical and physical methods — typically, electrochemistry or metal oxide resistance — to measure air contaminants in highly polluted conditions, such as inside the exhaust pipe of a passenger vehicle. And this information is used by the vehicle to improve performance.It turns out these sensors can work outside of your car, too. But they have some important limits. They are often not designed to work in the open air, where conditions are much cleaner than in vehicle exhaust. And they can be affected by conditions such as varying temperatures or relative humidity, or the presence of interfering gases that they are not designed to measure.Sensor manufacturers sometimes provide limited information on these low-cost sensors, and it is very easy to use the devices improperly. This is because they are designed to work under very controlled conditions — for example, at fixed temperatures or with limited wind movement — and these requirements often are not communicated to consumers. Measurement accuracy is especially important when we are trying to understand how exposure to air pollutants can lead to health problems. If we rely on poor measurements and reach incorrect conclusions, we will fail to protect public health.In a recent commentary in Nature, British researchers Alastair Lewis and Peter Edwards highlighted many questions about using inexpensive sensors to measure air pollution. They conclude that these technologies must be better validated prior to general public use, and warn that academic investigators should not be gatekeepers for using them. Rather, what we can do is provide essential test beds to evaluate sensor performance through testing and calibration. We also can call on sensor manufacturers to explain these devices’ limitations more clearly to customers. By RICHARD PELTIERUntil recently, measuring air pollution was a task that could be performed only by trained scientists using very sophisticated — and very expensive — equipment. That has changed with the rapid growth of small, inexpensive sensors that can be assembled by almost anyone. But an important question remains: Do these instruments measure what users think they are measuring?A number of venture-capital-backed startup or crowd-funded groups are marketing sensors by configuring a few dollars’ worth of electronics and some intellectual property — mainly software — into aesthetically pleasing packages. The Air Quality Egg, the Tzoa and the Speck sensor are examples of gadgets that are growing in popularity for measuring air pollutants.These devices make it possible for individuals without specialized training to monitor air quality. As an environmental health researcher, I’m happy to see that people are interested in clean air, especially because air pollution is closely linked with serious health effects. But there are important concerns about how well and how accurately these sensors work. RELATED ARTICLES Richard Peltier is an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. This post originally appeared at The Conversation. Supporting citizen scientistsMany users of these sensor platforms are citizen scientists who have little formal training in measuring air quality. People are rightfully concerned about degraded air quality in their communities, and they are taking matters into their own hands by downloading open-source plans, purchasing a few items and deploying their measurement systems.They can do this with the help of inexpensive, open-source microprocessors and a growing library of open-source software. Agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the South Coast Air Quality Management District in California, among others, recognize this growing interest. They also see the potential danger of empowering anyone to build and use tools that can produce highly inaccurate information.Miniaturized versions of expensive sensors still can cost thousands of dollars — far out of reach for most citizen scientists. So it is likely that market forces and consumer convenience are driving the growth of a do-it-yourself sensor market. Whatever the motivation, these sensors are being used now by many organizations, including concerned citizen advocacy groups, and to some extent by the regulatory community. Regulators are interested in these technologies because they can cheaply expand measurement capacity. But at the same time, they are cautious because of lingering uncertainties about measurements that do not comply with narrowly prescribed measurement methods.Vastly different air pollution levels observed in an image from a commercial aircraft in New York City and New Delhi, India. (Photo: Pallavi Pant)It is not hard to build a $30 sensor to measure carbon monoxide, although such a device probably will not be able to measure concentrations less than, say, one part per million. In many wealthy countries, where pollution levels are relatively low, such a device would not produce meaningful measurements. But on a busy street in New Delhi, or near a brick kiln in Nepal, it could be quite useful because pollution levels are significantly higher.Low-cost air monitoring does have merits. For much of the world, these tools could greatly increase understanding of pollution risks, especially in countries that do not have the financial resources or research infrastructure to produce sophisticated air quality measurements. Many environmental health scientists would like to expand the reach of these sensors to every corner of the world.Use of DIY air sensors will continue to grow as people around the world learn more about the health risks of air pollution. The key is to make sure they work as reliably as possible. By expanding sound research measurements, we can continue to educate the public on the risks of air pollution, and to lobby for better protection from this hazard in a more informed way. All About Indoor Air Quality Designing a Good Ventilation System Four Ways Bad Duct Systems Can Lead to Poor Indoor Air QualityMonitoring Air Quality at Home At their core, these devices rely on inexpensive, and often uncertain, measurement technologies. Someday small sensors costing less than $100 may replace much more expensive research-grade instruments like those used by government regulators. But that day is likely to be far away.last_img read more

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PSC gives 2019 SEA Games hosting green light

first_imgPractice makes perfect for PH booter Belgira Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:36Manny Pacquiao part of 2019 SEA Games opening ceremony Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim Ramirez said he was invited to the luncheon in the presence of some cabinet members where Go, who represented President Rodrigo Duterte, and Cayetano inquired about the status of 2019 Manila Games.“I was asked if there’s still a chance to push through and I told them that I have no problem with it (hosting),” said Ramirez.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSBoxers Pacquiao, Petecio torchbearers for SEA Games openingIn a board meeting on Wednesday, Ramirez said the PSC board, which is also composed of commissioners Ramon Fernandez, Charles Maxey, Arnold Agustin and Celia Kiram, gave the go-signal for the hosting.“We were very upbeat and happy that there is a big hope of holding the 2019 SEA Games,” said the PSC chief. Barring any major obstacle, the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines will most likely push through as planned.Presidential assistant Christopher Lawrence Go and Department of Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano breathed life into the country’s hosting of the biennial sportsfest in a meeting with Philippine Sports Commission chair Butch Ramirez on Tuesday.ADVERTISEMENT NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Ramirez said he asked Fernandez to reconcile with Cojuangco in the spirit of unity and cooperation as the PSC board forms a partnership with the POC in the hosting.Ramirez said Fernandez has thrown his full support and even offered Cebu as a venue for equestrian.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his sidecenter_img LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Pagasa: Storm intensifies as it nears PAR Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ View comments Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ MOST READ “The POC welcomes the government support for the hosting and will defer to Secretary Cayetano to announce it. The POC sees the support as a unifying force for Philippine sports,” said POC president Peping Cojuangco.Ramirez, however, added there’s a few more concerns that has to be settled as Sen. Cayetano tries to discuss the positive development with the Philippine Olympic Committee.A reliable source said Cayetano would be named chair of the local organizing committee, replacing Senator Migz Zubiri.The government initially declined to host the 2019 Games, citing the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City.POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. appealed to Duterte to reconsider the decision before the deadline on Aug. 18 during the SEAG Federation Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur.ADVERTISEMENTlast_img read more

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The Hard Wrap 2016 NTL Edition

first_imgThe 2016 NTL edition of ‘The Hard Wrap’ magazine was officially launched at the 2016 National Touch League. This edition includes a recap of the past six months, including the Harvey Norman All Stars, the release of the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, feature stories on several members of the Touch Football community, as well as much more. To download this edition, please click here.  Related LinksThe Hard Wraplast_img

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Coal import declines about 4 to 19 mn tonnes in July

first_imgNew Delhi: India’s coal import declined by 3.7 per cent to 18.93 million tonnes (MT) in July this year from 19.67 MT in the same month a year ago. Of the total coal imports in July 2019, non-coking coal shipment was at 12.66 MT, coking coal’s was at 4.17 MT, among others, according to a provisional compilation by mjunction services based on monitoring of vessels’ positions and data received from shipping companies. “Against a modest increase in import in June, volumes during July dropped because of softer demand for power during monsoon with thermal power generation falling 7.2 per cent during the month,” mjunction MD and CEO Vinaya Varma said. However, with a fall in coal stock at power stations during July and August, imports may firm up in coming days, Varma said. During the April-July period of the ongoing fiscal, the import of thermal coal was up 13.4 per cent to 60.97 MT, against 53.76 MT reported for the same period last fiscal. For coking coal, the volume imported during April-July of FY’20 was 17.73 MT, slightly higher than 17.25 MT imported during the corresponding period last financial year.last_img read more

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