Turning smartphones into personal, real-time pollution-location monitors

Kurzweil Newsletter: “Scientists reporting in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology have used smartphone and sensing technology to better pinpoint times and locations of the worst air pollution, which is associated with respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

Most such studies create a picture of exposure based on air pollution levels outside people’s homes. This approach ignores big differences in air quality in school and work environments. It also ignores spikes in pollution that happen over the course of the day such as during rush hour.

To fill in these gaps, Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen and colleagues in Spain, The Netherlands, and the U.S. equipped 54 school children from from 29 different schools around Barcelona with smartphones that could track their location and physical activity. The children also received sensors that continuously measured the ambient levels of black carbon, a component of soot. Although most children spent less than 4 percent of their day traveling to and from school, this exposure contributed 13 percent of their total potential black carbon exposure.

The study was associated with BREATHE, an epidemiological study of the relation between air pollution and brain development.

The researchers conclude that mobile technologies could contribute valuable new insights into air pollution exposure….

More: Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen, David Donaire-Gonzalez, Ioar Rivas, Montserrat de Castro, Marta Cirach, Gerard Hoek, Edmund Seto, Michael Jerrett, Jordi Sunyer. Variability in and Agreement between Modeled and Personal Continuously Measured Black Carbon Levels Using Novel Smartphone and Sensor Technologies. Environmental Science & Technology, 2015; 150209104136008 DOI: 10.1021/es505362x